Does Cohabitation Affect Your Alimony Payments?

If spousal payments are listed as part of your divorce decree, you're required to make them so that your ex-spouse can maintain the lifestyle level that he or she was accustomed to living during your marriage. However, in some cases, the amount of alimony that you pay can be reduced or eliminated if your ex-spouse begins cohabitating with his or her partner. Learn more about how cohabitation affects alimony payments to determine whether you can petition the court for a modification of payments.

Eligibility for Alimony Modifications

Whether or not you're eligible to file a petition for alimony modification depends on the terms of your divorce decree and the state that handled the divorce proceedings. Some states don't allow alimony modifications at all. So, the first thing you need to do is contact a family law attorney to see if a modification in payment is an option. If your state does allow divorce modifications, the first thing you need to do is refer to your divorce decree.

Your divorce decree includes the specific terms of the spousal support awarded to your ex, including whether payments can be modified and the circumstances in which payments can be modified. If your state laws allow alimony modifications, you can petition the court to modify the terms of your spousal support due to your ex-spouse cohabitating if:

  • The divorce decree doesn't specify the circumstances surrounding an alimony modification.
  • Your divorce decree includes a provision for future modification and the provision specifically listed cohabitation as grounds to modify your payments.
  • Your divorce decree includes a provision for future modification that doesn't list cohabitation as a reason for modification, but does state that payments can be modified if ordered by the court.
  • If the provision in your divorce decree lists life changes as a circumstance for modification, even if cohabitation isn't specifically listed.

Unfortunately, if you have a no-change provision in your divorce decree, you won't be able to reduce or eliminate your payments.

What is Considered Cohabitation?

The way cohabitation is defined by the court varies by state. Some states allow alimony to be terminated if the receiving spouse begins cohabitating, regardless of whether or not cohabitating has affected the person's financial circumstances. However, in most states, to reduce or terminate your alimony payments upon cohabitation, your ex's need for support needs to decrease significantly due to his or her new living arrangements. Whether or not the need for support has decreased enough is determined by the court on a case-by-case basis. To determine exactly how alimony payments are affected by cohabitation in your state, you should speak to a family law attorney as soon as possible.

The laws surrounding the reduction or termination of alimony payments due to cohabitation can be confusing. So, you should consider hiring a family law attorney, such as Ivy Law Group PLLC, to help you determine whether or not alimony modification is possible and what you need to do to prove that your ex's need for spousal support has changed.