How to Stop Alimony if an Ex Cohabits

By Rob Jennings J.D.

Alimony obligations can range in duration from months to years to forever. Regardless of how long you have been ordered — or have agreed—to pay alimony, you may be able to cut off your payments if your former spouse cohabits with a romantic partner. Whether you can do this depends upon state law and the terms of either your divorce decree or separation agreement.

Alimony obligations can range in duration from months to years to forever. Regardless of how long you have been ordered — or have agreed—to pay alimony, you may be able to cut off your payments if your former spouse cohabits with a romantic partner. Whether you can do this depends upon state law and the terms of either your divorce decree or separation agreement.

Cohabitation

The kind of cohabitation that can get you out of paying alimony involves more than simply living with another person; your ex-spouse getting a roommate generally won't suffice. While the law on cohabitation in alimony cases varies from state to state, cohabitation typically involves not only living together but also exhibiting behavior one would expect to see coming from married couples, for example, going grocery shopping for each other, sharing vehicles, going out together, taking care of each other's pets and eating together as a couple. You usually must also show the existence of a romantic relationship.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More

How Alimony Was Set

If you think you can prove your ex is cohabiting with a romantic partner, whether you can terminate alimony depends upon state law and the terms of your alimony award. In some states, such as North Carolina, courts are required to terminate alimony, if established by court order, upon the paying spouse's proof of cohabitation by the receiving spouse. However, if you have a marital settlement agreement that does not allow alimony to continue upon cohabitation, it could be invalidated if it places unfair conditions on a former spouse that have nothing to do with her financial status — in essence, trying to control her social life with your purse strings.

Procedure

Even if you have bona fide evidence of cohabitation, you generally can't just quit paying alimony. If alimony was set by court order, you'll need to file a motion to terminate alimony and properly serve your ex-spouse or her attorney of record. Failure to pay alimony as ordered could expose you to contempt-of-court charges, and you can never be totally sure that you will prevail on your motion. If alimony was set through a separation agreement that allows for termination upon cohabitation, you may be able to stop paying and then raise cohabitation as a defense when your former spouse sues you for breach of the agreement.

Evidence

The burden of proving cohabitation rests on the paying spouse. To convince a court that your ex is cohabiting, you'll need to produce evidence proving it. Some payors hire a private investigator to take pictures and watch the receiving spouse's house. Testimony from neighbors, family members and children of sufficient age can also establish the existence of cohabitation. Bank records and credit card statements can shed light on expense-sharing arrangements. In the age of social media, the Internet can also be tremendously useful.

Divorce is never easy, but we can help. Learn More
How to Terminate Alimony Due to Cohabitation in Ohio

References

Related articles

Alimony Laws in North Carolina on Extramarital Affairs

North Carolina is one of the most unforgiving states in the country when it comes to adultery. At the time of publication, it is one of only 32 states that still recognize fault-based divorce grounds of any kind. It not only considers adultery a ground for divorce, but it has passed special legislation to address adultery’s effect on alimony issues.

Does Alimony Cease When a Spouse Becomes Incapacitated?

Alimony, or spousal support, is financial support to a former spouse upon divorce, and sometimes during the divorce process. Courts sometimes order that alimony be paid for life, but unforeseen circumstances, such as incapacitation of the paying spouse, can alter a former spouse's ability to continue making the court-ordered payments.

How is Alimony Calculated in a New York Divorce?

Marriage is as much about money as it is about love. When two people depend on each other financially, especially over an extended period of years, New York takes the position that neither of them should have to suffer economic hardship because the marriage ends. Alimony – also called spousal support or maintenance in New York – diverts some income from the spouse who earns more to the spouse who earns less. As a result, they can share a comparable lifestyle post-divorce.

Get Divorced Online

Related articles

No Cohabitation Rules on a Divorce Decree

Once your divorce decree is established, the terms become binding and are usually set in stone unless there has been a ...

Petition for Alimony Modification

After divorce, life progresses as jobs and promotions are gained and lost, and health declines. Many changes affect ...

Is Alimony Modifiable?

Divorce brings enough immediate challenges that spouses don't always consider the long-term consequences of their ...

How to Dismiss Alimony Claims for Failure to Prosecute

Alimony claims can arise as part of a divorce or separation complaint, but they can also present in the form of a ...

Browse by category