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Alimony and cohabitation: what you need to know

On Behalf of | Jan 2, 2024 | Family Law

Being hit with an order to pay alimony can feel like a punch to the gut. After all, you’ve worked hard to secure your job and your income, and now it can feel like you’re being cheated out of it by a former spouse who has yet to become self-sufficient.

Addressing the matter can seem difficult, too, given that you’ll have to demonstrate that there’s been a change in circumstances warranting some sort of modification. While that may include showing that your former spouse has secured employment or an education that renders them marketable in the workforce, one of the easiest ways to have alimony stopped is to show that your former spouse is now cohabitating with someone else.

How cohabitation affects spousal support

The purpose of alimony is to provide your former spouse with financial assistance until they can get on their feet and become self-sufficient. However, if your former spouse sparks up a relationship with someone else who provides them with financial support, then your financial assistance is no longer necessary.

Before you can have the spousal support spicket siphoned off, though, you’ll have to take the matter to court and prove cohabitation, unless your spouse agrees to cessation of support. This can be difficult to do if your former spouse contests the allegations of cohabitation, which they might do to try to punish you and retain their income. So, what can you do?

Tips for proving cohabitation

The burden is on you to prove that your former spouse is cohabitating with someone else and is receiving financial support as a result. Here are some ways to do that:

  • Search social media: Your former spouse’s social media posts may show that they’re in a relationship with a new love interest and that the two of them live together. Take screenshots of what you can to use as evidence. If you’re blocked from your former spouse’s social media pages, then you might consider asking mutual friends if they’ve seen anything on social media indicative of your former spouse cohabitating with someone.
  • Talk to neighbors: If you know where your former spouse lives, then you might want to consider talking to their neighbors. Doing so can give you an idea of who has been coming to the residence and who has been leaving. Pinning down timeframes can give you a better sense of whether someone is staying with your former spouse overnight.
  • Analyze financial records: Through the legal process, you might be able to get your hands on your former spouse’s financial records. This could show where their money is going and who is helping pay for bills such as utilities, groceries, and rent or a mortgage.
  • Simply ask: You might think that asking your former spouse about cohabitation will result in nothing but denial, but you could be surprised by the amount of information you receive. Although unlikely, they could admit to living with someone else, but it’s more likely that they’ll give you a story that you can at least hold them to. This could give you the opportunity to attack their credibility when you seek a spousal support modification.

Don’t let your former spouse take financial advantage of you

You’ve held to your obligations under your divorce decree. Your spouse should do the same. But when that doesn’t happen, the onus is on you to take action to protect your rights and your financial wellbeing. That can seem daunting given how aggressive you’ll have to be, but you don’t have to shoulder the burden of your case on your own. By surrounding yourself with support, you’ll hopefully achieve an outcome that is just and deserved.