If you are on the receiving end of financial support from your ex, you may be wondering what the law says about losing that support when your living circumstances change. The law is mostly mum since cohabitation was mostly unheard of long ago when divorce laws came into being. Since it is widely-known that alimony (or spousal support) will end when you remarry, cohabitation presents a slightly different picture. To learn more read on.
You have a roommate
If that statement sums up your living situation, then your ex likely has no grounds to challenge your alimony. Having a renter onboard to help you stretch out the budget a bit should not be a problem unless your divorce decree includes specific provisions about income. When the relationship moves beyond that of a roommate to that of a romantic nature, however, you may have problems.
Cohabitation is very popular
Whether it's just the specter of "once burned, twice shy" or other reasons, many divorced people are reluctant to tie the knot again. In fact, the incidences of couples living together without marriage has blossomed into a downright trend. Living together without the bonds of matrimony has its benefits, of course. You can allow yourself time to really know your mate before making a big legal move. Add to that the financial incentives, since often two can live cheaper than one when it comes to things like rent, utilities, mortgages and more.
On the other hand, marriage presents tax benefits that cohabiting couples cannot access, such as married filing jointly status when filing, using your spouse's employee health insurance plan and the security of being next of kin for medical and other purposes.
Do you still need the support?
Alimony exists to help one spouse "catch up" and achieve the same standard of living they enjoyed prior to the divorce. Without it, some who have given up their chances for a career and educational opportunities could suffer poverty, or at least struggle to make ends meet. Moreover, the courts see alimony as a way to ensure that the needing spouse isn't dependent on government assistance, particularly when the paying spouse has the financial assets to pay. It is foolish to assume that cohabitation automatically means a big boost in your financial situation, however.
If your alimony is challenged
Your ex may view cohabitation as a way out of paying their obligation, for a variety of reasons both personal and logical. When it comes down to it, is a remarriage really that different than cohabitation? The main point to keep in mind here is that alimony is a financial issue, not a moral or general support issue. If your financial picture has remained relatively unchanged, then your ex likely has no grounds for altering the support order.
This can be a complicated issue, and the potential to lose your alimony support should send you to a family law firm as quickly as you can.