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Should Living Arrangements Affect Spousal Support?

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Divorced people who depend on spousal support (or alimony) are often perplexed at how cohabitation might affect their support arrangements. Almost all spousal support agreements specify that a party will stop receiving financial assistance once they get married. Couples in a romantic relationship who live together without marriage was virtually unheard of when family law, divorce, and spousal support laws and guidelines were created. While some states address this issue head-on, in others are the laws are mum.

No More Marriage for Me

Perhaps it's just a knee-jerk reaction to the rigors of divorce and the hangover from a previous relationship that went sour, but many divorced people are reluctant to take the legal step of marriage again. Marriage, in fact, is not nearly as popular as it was in the past. More couples than at any time in known history are living together in romantic relationships and refusing to legalize things. The benefits of cohabitation are often focused on flexibility and financial matters. Two can often live cheaper than one.

When Spousal Support Is Questioned

If your previous spouse is asserting that you no longer need financial support because of your living arrangements, the outcome depends on several factors. Not everyone is awarded spousal support, so the main reasons for the order should be examined. For example, if you were awarded spousal support based on your health and inability to work at a job, your cohabitation arrangement may not have changed matters. Just because you cohabit doesn't mean that your health and ability to work has changed since the original order was handed down. If the reason the spousal support was awarded still exists, the judge is not likely to change things.

A Financial Matter

Spousal support is a financial issue, not a moral one. No matter how your ex views your living arrangements, you have the right to live as you wish. If your need for continued financial help is challenged, you should be prepared to show that you still have a need for it. Not all relationships where two or more people live together have the potential to cause a substantial rise in income for the spouse receiving help. That being said, if your spouse can prove that your live-in love is contributing a substantial amount of money to help pay your living expenses, you may have an issue. For example, if your new partner is paying most of the bills and you are using the spousal support to go on vacation and purchase luxury items, the judge may order the spousal support stopped.

If your former spouse is trying to stop your spousal support, you must act fast. Speak to your family attorney at once for help.