After a divorce in our state with one former spouse ordered to pay alimony to the other, there will still be concerns regarding the payments, how long they will continue and under what circumstances they will stop. There are basic reasons for the end of alimony, such as the receiving spouse becoming self-sufficient, among others. However, there is one issue that might come up and people are commonly unaware of how state family law addresses it: if the receiving spouse lives with another person.
Cohabitation can be a problem and affect the alimony payments. There can be a suspension or termination of alimony payments if the receiving former spouse resides with another person in a cohabitation situation. This is defined as an intimate, supporting and personal relationship with the couple taking duties and privileges that are generally linked to a marriage. They do not need to maintain a single common residence. The law mandates that certain factors be considered to determine if there is cohabitation.
If the couple has intertwined finances with, for example, a joint bank account, this will be evidence of cohabitation. When the couple shares living expenses, or has joint responsibility for it, this too can be evidence. The couple’s family or social circle might see the couple as cohabitating and recognize the relationship as such. This will be evidence of cohabitating.
If the parties live together, have frequent contact, the relationship has been in place for a certain period or there are other indicators that they have an intimate and supportive relationship, it will be considered. Household chores might be shared. If the person who is receiving alimony has been given a promise of support from another person while getting the alimony, this is viewed as cohabitation.
The court has the right to determine that the couple does not live together or has not been together long enough to consider it to be a cohabitating relationship. When there is a suspicion or evidence that a person who gets alimony is living with another person and benefits from that relationship, it can result in the alimony being stopped. The paying former spouse and the receiving former spouse should be cognizant of the issues that might accompany cohabitation in the context of alimony.