Southern California Family Law Blog

spousal support terminate

When does spousal support terminate?

Getting through the divorce process is mentally frustrating, physically challenging, and emotionally exhausting, as you find yourself trying to untangle your life from that of your soon-to-be ex-spouse. Divorces often evolve into lengthy disputes over custody of the children and which of you owns different pieces of property.

If you are going through a divorce, you will find yourself asking a number of questions. One of the most common questions is this: Will I still have to pay spousal support if my ex marries someone else?

When Does Spousal Support Terminate? (Family Code Section 4337)

Under California law, the answer to that question is found in section 4337 of the Family Code. That section states:

“Except as otherwise agreed by the parties in writing, the obligation of a party under an order for the support of the other party terminates upon the death of either party or the remarriage of the other party.”1

To put that into simpler terms, there are two ways for spousal support to end automatically under the law, no matter how long you and your ex-spouse had been married. It will end if either:

  • You or your ex-spouse dies, or
  • If your ex-spouse gets married. If you are the one receiving spousal support payments, this means that you will no longer receive if you get married again

However, notice the first clause of section 4337: “Except as otherwise agreed by the parties in writing…” This is an extremely important phrase because it means that your divorce settlement can override that law if you and your ex-spouse agree to continue payments even if the one receiving support gets married.

That agreement must be in writing and it must be specific so that if there is a later dispute, the court will be able to determine from the language of the agreement whether you and your spouse intended for payments to continue.2

The Critical Role of an Experienced Family Law Attorney

Though the law clearly states that your spousal support obligation will end if your ex-spouse remarries, his or her attorney may try to work into your settlement some language that requires your payments to continue. If you were to sign the agreement without realizing that language was included, you could find yourself making spousal support payments even after he or she starts a new marriage.

This is why having an experienced family law attorney at your side is crucial. Your skilled divorce attorney will review all proposals from your ex-spouse, and carefully examine the language of the settlement for these kinds of hidden traps.

The Family Law Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Are Ready to Help

If you are planning a divorce or dissolution of marriage, it is important that you understand every step of the complex legal process. At Wallin & Klarich, our skilled and knowledgeable family law attorneys have over 30 years of experience helping clients obtain the best possible outcome in their divorce. If you choose Wallin & Klarich to guide you through the divorce planning process, you can trust that your case is in very capable hands.

With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Orange County, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, an experienced Wallin & Klarich family law attorney is nearby no matter where you are located.

For a free phone consultation, call (888) 749-7428 today. We will get through this together.

1. [Cal. Fam. Code § 4337.]
2. [See, In re Marriage of Glasser (1986) 181 Cal.App.3d 149, 151: “A husband’s obligation to his former wife ends by operation of law when she marries another. If the parties intend that support is to be “non-terminable for any reason whatsoever,” they must say so in their agreement. No particular words are required. (Rheuban v. Rheuban (1965) 238 Cal. App. 2d 552, 557 [47 Cal. Rptr. 884].) On the other hand, silence will not do. (In re Marriage of Wright (1976) 54 Cal. App. 3d 1115, 1120 [126 Cal. Rptr. 894].) Language stating that the support is not modifiable also will not do.”]

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