If my final decree states that I no longer have to pay my ex’s car payment if she remarries, can I stop making payments if she moves in with her boyfriend?

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If my final decree states that I no longer have to pay my ex’s car payment if she remarries, can I stop making payments if she moves in with her boyfriend?

She recently leased a 1BR apartment with her boyfriend – the same man she was cheating on me with when we were married and the reason I divorced her. Is this enough to allow me to stop making the payments? I would gladly file a motion for contempt to make it official with the courts and I have plenty of documentation to prove her living arrangement. Since this is a civil union of sorts, I am thinking that I can win based on the spirit/intent of the law.

Asked on October 5, 2011 under Family Law, Texas

Answers:

B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

When it comes to decrees and final orders, they are usually interpreted more strictly than “general principals of law.”  That means that what you agreed to or what the judge ordered in your final decree will control.  If the final decree requires remarriage, then cohabitation is not enough… you’ll have to prove an actual union of marriage.  Texas recognizes two types of marriage—regular and common law.  Of course, he she legally marries the boyfriend, then the decree would authorize you to discontinue the payment.  Common law marriage is a bit trickier.  It not only requires the couple to live together, but also to agree to be married and hold themselves out to married.  If your ex-wife is only living with the boyfriend, it will not qualify as a remarriage.  That being said, you still have potential options.  The first is to quit paying anyhow and force her to file a motion to enforce against you.  Some people do this and then find themselves paying extra attorney’s fees and court costs in an enforcement action.  Another route is to possibly ask for a modification of the support obligation (if that's how the car payment is characterized) because there seems to have been a material change in her financial situation.  Depending on other wording in your decree, you may have additional avenues.  To get more specific advice, it would be worth a consultation fee to have a family law attorney review your decree and all of your options.


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