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Judge won’t force divorced husband to continue alimony

State law ends payments when spouse payee remarries

A state Supreme Court Justice has denied a woman’s claim that her ex-husband should continue to pay alimony until 2020 under the terms of their divorce agreement, even though she remarried in 2015.

Justice Richard A. Dollinger pointed out that Section 248 of the New York state Domestic Relations Law prohibits courts from enforcing “any orders which require a spouse to pay maintenance after the payee remarries.” In addition, “upon the death of either party or upon the recipient’s valid or invalid marriage” maintenance payments end under Section 236.

In the case Eleanor M. Burns v Andrew McIntosh Burns, the couple negotiated a separation agreement under which the husband would make payments to his ex-wife until November 2020. But the agreement did not mention events that normally would terminate the payments, such as death of either spouse, or remarriage of the ex-wife.

The wife remarried in 2015 and the ex-husband stopped payments in April 2016, which led to the wife filing an order to show cause to force the husband to resume payments and make up for the ones he skipped.

“The husband’s argument is simple: In the absence of an agreement, maintenance ordered in a judgment of divorce terminates upon the wife’s remarriage,” Dollinger wrote in the 14-page decision released Friday.

But the wife argues that the agreement is “silent on the cut-off of maintenance” and outside the control of the Domestic Relations Law.

“Section 248 states that this court must annul any order or judgment that provides for payment of maintenance to a party who remarries,” Dollinger wrote.

Andrew McIntosh Burns, an attorney, represented himself in the case. His ex-wife’s attorney, Francis C. Affronti, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.