Dealing with a separation is always difficult. As you are trying to sort out the emotional strain, the financial burden might be the last thing you want to think about. Alimony payments can help alleviate the financial stress of a separation, but are you aware of the things that could cause alimony payments to cease? It’s important to make sure you are in the know.

There are two major factors that cause the termination of alimony payment:
1. The death of either the supporting or dependent spouse.
2. The remarriage or cohabitation of the dependent spouse.

These terms seem pretty straightforward—death and remarriage are both easily defined, but what about cohabitation? At what point does a couple’s relationship fall under the definition of cohabitation?

In order to prove that a couple is cohabitating, there must be evidence that they are living together continuously and habitually. They must also take on the lifestyle of a married couple: e.g. sharing duties and obligations that would be expected of married couple. This can include a sexual relationship, but that is not always necessary.

It’s also important to note that a couple’s intent isn’t the deciding factor in whether or not a couple is determined to be cohabitating. A couple can claim that they’re not cohabitating, but if their relationship and lifestyle clearly falls under the umbrella of cohabitation, then they are cohabiting in the eyes of the law. However, if a couple’s cohabitation status is difficult to determine based purely on objective factors, then a couple’s intent will be considered.

Of course the court will base their ruling on fact-driven analysis, weighing several factors to determine a couple’s cohabitation status. Some of these factors are fairly obvious and things you might have considered such as length of time they’ve stayed at the partner’s residence; whether or not the dependent spouse has another residence that they maintain or continue to use; or whether they participate in their partner’s childcare routine (e.g. picking up kids from school).

If you are living with someone and are concerned that cohabitation can affect your alimony payments, here are a few factors to consider:
Whether or not you drive each other’s vehicles.
Whether or not you or your partner moved in furniture.
Whether or not you cook meals together.
Whether or not you answer the home phone at the residence.
Whether or not you attend church together.
Whether or not you drive around town together.
Whether others have observed you and your partner showing any display of love and affection.

These are only a handful of the factors used to determine cohabitation. If you have any questions about cohabitation or what factors could lead to the termination of alimony payments, be sure to contact an attorney.

If you or your ex-spouse receives alimony payments and is in a new relationship, be aware that cohabitation can cause termination of alimony payments. It’s important to know what situations can lead to the termination of alimony.