The easiest way for the obligation of spousal support to end is if the supported party remarries. Almost always, there is language in the spousal support order that says something along the lines of “the right to spousal support shall terminate upon either party’s death, supported party’s remarriage, or further order of Court, whichever shall first occur.” Sounds simple enough, but what if the person you remarry is your Ex?
What if you marry your Ex then divorce a second time? How does that effect spousal support? Statutes and case law tell us that if you remarry your ex, any spousal support obligation ceases. Since parties are now under one roof and rejoined in matrimony, there is no legal obligation to pay spousal support each month. It is assumed that support for one another will be provided since both parties are responsible for community obligations. Spousal support gets more complicated when parties, after their second marriage to each other, decide they want a second divorce. In terms of spousal support, the Court might “tack on” the first marriage to the second creating one long marriage. In other cases, the Court might determine that it would be inappropriate to tack on the first marriage to the second. What category the Court decides makes a huge difference in the amount of time the supported party is entitled to support since the Court heavily weighs the length of the marriage in determining how long to award support.
In Marriage of Chapman, the parties first married on July 23, 1960, divorced on June 9, 1981, reconciled and separated off and on for three years and remarried on April 28, 1982. The second marriage lasted only three and a half months. In re Marriage of Chapman (1987) 191 Cal.App.3d 1308. The trial Court determined the marriage only lasted three and a half months and, accordingly, ordered only a brief period of support. Wife, the supported spouse, appealed. The appellate court determined that given the relative brevity of the interval between them (three years), and the uninterrupted continuing nature of Husband’s legal responsibility to support Wife, it would be “unreal and unjust for the Court not to consider the entire marital history of the parties.” At all times during their time together, Husband provided for Wife by providing for her financially during both marriages and providing her spousal support for the three years of divorce between marriages. The Court further determined that if only the second marriage is taken into consideration by the Courts, it would create an incentive for the payor of support to convince the supported spouse to remarry and quickly divorce and only have to support their spouse for a short duration based on the second marriage. However, remarrying your Ex doesn’t necessarily mean the Court will take the entire marital history into consideration. In the case of Marriage of Buckaty, parties married for 12 years, divorced for 27 years, and then remarried for 19 months.
In re Marriage of Buckaty (1986) 180 Cal.App.3d 143. There was a point during a non marital period when Husband had no legal obligation to support Wife. The Court in that case viewed the relationship of the parties as primarily one of cohabitation and determined support should be based on the second marriage only. It seems that determining if the first marriage should be tacked on to the second marriage is dependent on how long the separation was between marriages and if there was a continuing legal obligation between marriages to provide spousal support. Depending on what the facts of the situation are and which case the facts fall under, it could make a huge difference in how long a party receives support.