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Can cohabitation end a spousal support obligation?

On Behalf of | Oct 11, 2022 | Spousal Support |

A spousal support obligation can be burdensome if you’re the one paying it. It can rock your own financial stability and prevent you from achieving your financial goals. Although you may have negotiated a spousal support resolution that you felt was fair at the time of your divorce, we all know that things change and what once seemed appropriate can quickly become unworkable.

That’s why the law allows for modification of spousal support orders. There are many justifications for modification, including changes in either party’s income or debt, but another commonly seen issue is cohabitation.

Can you terminate spousal support if your former spouse is cohabitating with someone else?

You might be able to, depending on the circumstances. Generally speaking, in order for cohabitation to cease a spousal support obligation, you have to show that the relationship that your former spouse is in is analogous to marriage. You also have to show that your former spouse has been in that relationship for at least a year.

But how does a court determine whether cohabitation is analogous to marriage?

In order to make this determination, the court is going to look at a number of factors. Among them are the following:

  • Whether the couple shares a primary residence
  • Whether there is romantic involvement between the couple
  • The length of the relationship
  • The continuity of the relationship
  • The existence of some sort of financial support in the relationship
  • Whether the couple shares meals together
  • Any vacations that the couple takes together
  • Any indicia of otherwise functioning as a family unit

The more of these characteristics that exist, the more likely the court is to find that the cohabitation in question is analogous to marriage. Therefore, if you feel like you’re being cheated out of your hard-earned money, you might want to start gathering evidence that speaks to these characteristics.

How can you start to gather the evidence you need to support your position?

Fortunately, there’s a lot that you can do right now to start building your case. One place to look is social media. If you can see your former spouse’s profile, you might be able to find posts or photographs that paint a picture of the kind of relationship that your former spouse is in with the other individual. Make sure that you’re capturing screenshots of these posts so that you can later use them to your advantage.

You might also be surprised by how much you can get out of your former spouse simply by asking pointed questions. Try to do so in writing so that you can retain what they say. Talking to your former spouse’s neighbors may also prove helpful, as they might be able to give you a better idea of how often your former spouse is at the residence and who else lives there.

Of course, there are other legal maneuvers that you can use. For example, you might be able to subpoena certain bills and financial accounts to see if your spouse is sharing financial obligations with someone else, which would support a finding of cohabitation.

Are you ready to take legal action?

You’ve worked hard for what you got. You shouldn’t have to give it up to a former spouse who doesn’t deserve it. Therefore, if you feel like it’s time to modify an existing spousal support order, you might want to reach out to an experienced law firm like ours to discuss the matter further. Hopefully, you can secure the advocacy that you need to obtain a fair and favorable outcome in your case.


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