The Kansas Missouri Lawyers Blog had a great post recently discussing a recent Missouri ruling regarding the termination of maintenance (Alimony) payments when a former spouse remarries.  The complete article is as follows:

The Missouri Court of Appeals recently held that absent an express agreement otherwise maintenance (alimony) payments terminate upon the recipient’s remarriage. The Court went on to hold that the use of the word “only” was insufficient to show this express agreement. See the opinion here.

In this case, husband and wife divorced in October of 2003. The judgment included a provision requiring the husband to pay his former wife periodic, modifiable maintenance of $500 per month. This maintenance arrangement was later amended by the parties. As part of this stipulation, the parties stated that “The maintenance obligation herein should terminate upon [the wife’s] death.” The lower court’s modified judgment setting forth the stipulation stated, “Said maintenance obligation shall only terminate upon the death of [the wife] or September 30, 20011, which occurs first.” (emphasis added).

The wife remarried thereafter, and husband filed a motion to terminate his maintenance obligation. The Court noted that Section 452.370.3 provides in relevant part, “Unless otherwise agreed in writing or expressly provided in the judgment, the obligation to pay future statutory maintenance is terminated upon the death or either party or the remarriage of the party receiving maintenance.” Based on its interpretation and judicial precedent, the Court held, “[I]n order to rebut the statutory presumption that maintenance terminates upon the receiving spouse’s remarriage, a dissolution decree must expressly refer to the receiving spouse’s possible future remarriage, and must expressly provide that maintenance payments shall continue beyond that contingency.”

Thus, at least in Missouri, parties to a divorce, working with their attorneys, must carefully draft separation and maintenance agreements to capture the parties’ wishes. In particular, if the parties wish that maintenance payments will continue indefinitely or for sometime after the recipient’s remarriage, the parties must state this fact by expressly referencing remarriage and describing its consequences.

Thanks again to the Kansas Missouri Lawyer’s Blog, a great legal resource for people in the Kansas City area, for this case law update.