Brief Fact Summary. Plaintiff brought suit requesting a modification of his alimony payments to defendant upon her remarriage.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. The Court adopts a rule whereby the recipient spouse’s remarriage does not of itself automatically terminate alimony, but is prima facie evidence requiring the court to terminate alimony absent proof of extraordinary circumstances established by the recipient spouse warranting its continuation
To be successful in an action to modify a judgment for alimony the petitioner must demonstrate a material change of circumstances since the entry of the earlier judgment.View Full Point of Law
Should the court adopt a rule automatically terminating alimony on remarriage of the recipient spouse?
Did the probate judge err in finding that the defendant was still in need of support and that her remarriage did not constitute a material change in circumstances?
Held. The recipient spouse’s remarriage does not of itself automatically terminate alimony, but is prima facie evidence requiring the court to terminate alimony absent proof of extraordinary circumstances established by the recipient spouse warranting its continuation.
This court has held that remarriage is prima facie evidence of a material change in circumstance. The majority of States have statutes providing alimony payments automatically terminate on the recipient spouse’s remarriage. In States where legislation does not specifically address the issue, most courts have held remarriage does not automatically terminate alimony, but creates a strong presumption or prima facie case.
The new spouse assumes a duty to support on marriage. The mere fact that without alimony the defendant cannot live with her second husband as she had with her first is not a valid reason to terminate alimony.
Discussion. The Court states that the majority rule is to terminate alimony on remarriage, but determines that in some cases it would be preferable to permit alimony to continue on a showing of extraordinary circumstances.