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How Cohabitation Affects Spousal Support

Many formerly married people are understandably reluctant to marry again after a divorce, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they are living life solo. More than ever before, people are cohabiting without going through the legal process of getting married. Besides the obvious attractions of companionship, it really is cheaper to live as two. If you are the recipient of spousal support (alimony), you may run into some trouble when you take on a partner, especially if you two are sharing living expenses. Read on for some guidance on dealing with this issue.

3 Main Spousal Support Options: When you divorced, the judge ordered your spouse to pay you one of several different types of spousal support:

Temporary: This is meant to bridge the gap in time between separation and the final decree. It expires once a new spousal support order is signed to go along with the final divorce disposition.

Permanent: This form of spousal support is rare and is often reserved for spouses who are older or in poor health. It only ends with the receiving spouse getting married

Rehabilitative: This is meant for a specific purpose instead of a specific time, and it allows a spouse to seek education or job training to improve their job outlook.

Do You Still Need Spousal Support? While it stands to reason that your financial situation may stand a chance at being improved by cohabitation, it is not necessarily a given. The way couples divide up their budget, how much each other makes and a myriad of other factors go into the budgetary make up of a couple, and you may still need the financial support provided by the spousal support.

If the Providing Ex Objects: You might find that your former spouse will balk at having to provide support once you are living with someone, particularly since the evaluation of spousal support is based on need. It should be mentioned that almost any change in income by the receiving spouse could trigger the need for a support hearing. For example, if you had a roommate who was adding to your income or you got a new job with higher pay, those could both put your spousal support in jeopardy of a reduction or losing it altogether.

What the Judge Will Ask: To get more information about your current finances, the judge will want to see a new budget and the following questions may be asked:

  1. Is your cohabitation reoccurring or just a sometimes thing? Is it more or less permanent?
  2. Are both you and your partner's names on the lease agreement, mortgage or real estate deed?
  3. Do you have joint bank accounts and joint debts, such as car payments?

If your spousal support is in jeopardy, speak to a family law attorney right away to get the matter settled so that you can continue to get the financial help to which you are entitled.