When you are divorced, there are many factors that impact whether you pay alimony and how much you pay. North Carolina law outlines specific circumstances where you can be discharged of your obligation to pay spousal support.
As the University of North Carolina explains, your spouse's remarriage is one of the circumstances under which you may no longer have to pay. In 1995, the legal circumstances were expanded to include cohabitation of a former spouse, provided certain conditions are met. The new law was designed to prevent former spouses who are receiving alimony from financially benefiting from their new relationship, but refusing in bad faith to get married to the new partner in order to ensure that alimony payments continue. The law at issue states that cohabitation can be proved when a couple who may be in a physical relationship voluntarily assumes the "rights, duties and obligations" of marriage.
Since cohabitation was added to the law, courts in North Carolina have worked to establish clear guidelines for when this voluntary mutual assumption of marital rights, duties and obligations rise to such a level that it is appropriate to discontinue alimony. In a recent North Carolina Supreme Court decision, the Court held that for alimony to be discontinued, the cohabitation must be "continual and habitual," and be coupled with the voluntary mutual assumption of marital rights. In that case, a former spouse's duty to pay alimony was not discharged when his former wife began a new relationship in which she and her boyfriend each maintained separate houses, even though he would frequently loan her the money to pay for her housing costs.
This post is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice.