Has your former spouse moved in with a new partner, and you are wondering, does cohabitation affect spousal support? Yes, it does affect it, but it’s not an automatic ground for modification or cancelation of spousal support.
To stop paying spousal support or modify the payments that you make, work with your spousal support lawyers and file a modification of spousal support with the court.
The court will then analyze the factors you have presented in court and decide whether you should stop or reduce the amount you pay.
What does the court look at to make a ruling?
For the court to make a ruling that a couple is cohabiting, and you should reduce or stop making the payments, it considers plenty of factors such as:
Whether the cohabiting couple is sharing a residence
Based on the evidence you present in court, the court will investigate whether the couple is sharing the same house. The first thing they will look at is the person who owns or pays for the house. If the couple owns it or both pay for it, the court assumes that they are cohabiting.
Even if the property is owned or paid for by one of the parties, the court can look at the amount of food the couple consumes. If there is an increase in consumption, that’s a clear indication of another occupant in the house.
A classic example is when you notice the number of orders increase. For example, when a couple starts ordering two plates instead of two.
Sharing of bills
If your ex-spouse’s new lover is now responsible for paying for certain expenses such as electricity and water bills, this points towards cohabitation, and you should work with your attorney to show that the bills are being paid by someone else and you should reduce your payments as your former spouse no longer needs the money.
How the ex characterizes their relationship
How does your ex-spouse represent their new relationship? Are they committed or exclusive? You should pay attention to their language over the text and/or email. It also doesn’t hurt checking their representation on social media.
The time they have been together.
You might rush to court saying that your former spouse is cohabiting, so you should be off the hook, but this isn’t enough. The court will find out the amount of time your spouse has been living with their new lover.
If it has been a couple of days or weeks, it might not amount to cohabiting, but if it has been months or even years, it can be termed as cohabiting, and you can easily see a reduction in your spousal support payments.
Sharing of parenting responsibilities
If your spouse shares the parenting responsibilities with the new lover, they can be said to be cohabiting. The court might not be able to prove this, but you can help. One way to do it is to find a school fees receipt paid by the new lover.
You can also take photos of the new lover as they pick up the kids from school and present them in court.
The purpose of doing this is to show that the responsibility duties have reduced on your spouse’s side, so they don’t need as much money as they used to.
What should you do to your cohabiting ex-spouse?
You should note that the cohabiting ex-spouse can assert that the new relationship doesn’t reduce their need for alimony, and as long as they can prove that they still need the money, the court will rule in their favor.
To increase the chances of the court ruling in your favor, work with your family lawyers Fairfax VA and gather as much evidence as possible that shows that your ex-spouse is less reliant on you.