Under Utah law, there are many circumstances in which the obligation to pay alimony may end, including when the alimony recipient gets remarried or cohabitates with another person. However, a Lindon woman recently asked a Utah judge to address an unusual alimony question not previously answered: Can a woman stop paying alimony to an ex-husband accused of killing her new husband?

This particular case stems from an incident that occurred in July in which a man allegedly entered the home of his ex-wife and killed her current husband. According to court documents, the ex-husband told police that he was actually searching for his ex-wife “to kill her,” but ended up shooting her husband instead.

What makes this situation unusual is that the ex-wife is still obligated to make her $500-a-month alimony payments to her ex-husband, which he was awarded in 2009 due to a head injury that prevents him from working. However, the woman now seeks to have these payments terminated given the murder allegations.

The cruel irony of this entire situation is that if the ex-husband had been successful in his alleged original intent of senselessly killing his ex-wife, he would no longer be entitled to receive his alimony payments anyway.

Modifying alimony payments in Utah

Once established and ordered, alimony in Utah can usually only be modified or terminated in certain situations. For example, as mentioned above, payments can end if the recipient begins to cohabitate with another individual or gets remarried. However, a party can also petition for a modification of alimony if a “substantial material change” in circumstances occurs that was not foreseeable at the time of divorce.

Often times, the question of alimony modification involves common everyday changes in circumstance, such as a significant increase or decrease in the income of the parties – not murder allegations. In fact, it is not absolutely certain how the court will ultimately rule in this recent case.

While this recent death is both tragic and unfortunate, it is important to note the court will nevertheless have to make it alimony determination based upon state law. If anything, this case illustrates the complexities and intricacies present in Utah alimony law. Indeed, legal issues related to alimony are rarely black and white.

As such, most people seek the counsel of an experienced family law attorney if they are involved in an alimony dispute. A knowledgeable attorney can fully explain Utah alimony law and help ensure an individual’s rights are protected.

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