Alimony agreements and orders are hardly set in stone. In fact, they are routinely modified when the alimony recipient remarries. But what happens to alimony when the recipient chooses not to remarry and chooses cohabitation with his or her new significant other?
Is Cohabitation a Ground to Modify Alimony?
Unless you and your spouse agreed otherwise, or the judge ordered otherwise at the time of your divorce, you should assume your order is modifiable based on the alimony recipient’s cohabitation with a new significant other.
If you are receiving alimony, you must understand that moving in with a new partner could put your alimony at risk. If you are paying alimony, you should be aware of your rights in the event your ex-spouse ever chooses to cohabitate with a new partner.
Connecticut Divorce Law on Cohabitation
While the law does not use the word “cohabitation” specifically, divorce lawyers refer to Connecticut General Statutes Section 46b-86(b) as the “Cohabitation Statute” because it gives courts the authority to suspend, reduce, or terminate alimony upon a showing that:
- the alimony recipient is living with another person, and
- the living arrangement altered the financial needs of the alimony recipient.
What Does it Take to Modify an Alimony Order Based on Cohabitation?
So-called cohabitation cases are highly fact specific.
If you are paying alimony, you must obtain proof that your ex-spouse is actually cohabiting before your order can be modified. If they are simply staying one or two nights per week at a significant other’s residence, or vice versa, you probably will not be able to convince a judge that they are “living together” under the law.
Will My Order Be Modified If Cohabitation is Proven?
Proof of cohabitation does not guarantee that your alimony will actually be modified. That is because the second part of the analysis outlined by the Connecticut General Statutes Section 46b-86(b) requires that living together also alters the alimony recipient’s financial needs.
So, before an alimony order can be modified, the payor must first convince the Court that a financial impact resulted from the alimony recipient’s cohabitation arrangement. Then, he or she must prove that the resulting impact also changed the alimony recipient’s financial needs.
Will Alimony End if the Recipient is Cohabitating?
Whether or not cohabitation brings alimony payments to an end will largely depend on the language of the original alimony order. In some cases, if the payor successfully proves that 1) his or her ex-spouse is living with another person and 2) the cohabitation alters the ex-spouse’s financial needs, the judge may opt to terminate alimony. However, the law also grants the Court the discretion to suspend or reduce alimony payments, rather than terminating alimony.
Our Experienced Connecticut Divorce Attorneys Can Help Resolve Your Alimony Issues
If you are dealing with alimony issues after divorce, it is essential to have a strong legal advocate on your side.
Our experienced Connecticut divorce attorneys can help you more easily navigate these complex issues and ensure that your rights are protected throughout the process.
Contact us today to schedule your consultation.