The purpose of spousal support, also known as alimony, is meant to help the spouse in a worse financial position become financially independent during and after a divorce. What happens when the recipient of spousal support starts cohabitating with another person? Understanding how cohabitation can affect spousal support, is important to know for both the paying and recipient spouse. If you would like to speak with an experienced Washington divorce attorney about this or any other issue, talk to the Hodgson Law Office in Spokane today.
Cohabitation refers to an arrangement where a couple lives together in a marriage-like fashion. It must be more than just roommates and does not apply when people related by blood live together. There must be financial reliance from one or both people in the relationship with the other in a committed intimate relationship. When determining whether a former spouse is cohabitating with another person, the court can consider a number of factors, including:
If a former spouse receiving spousal support in Washington is found to be cohabitating with another person, it can have a substantial impact on their alimony payments.
If the court finds that a former spouse receiving spousal support is cohabitating with another person, the paying spouse has the opportunity to reduce or even eliminate their spousal support payments. Cohabitation can be seen by the court as a substantial change in circumstances since the finalization of a divorce. In order to qualify as a substantial change in circumstances, the cohabitation must not have been contemplated at the time of the divorce and it must be permanent. The judge in the case may either significantly reduce spousal support payments to reflect the new financial reliance on the cohabitator or eliminate alimony payments completely if the circumstances warrant it.
It is important to note that cohabitation does not affect the payment of child support if a minor child is involved in a divorce. Child support is meant to provide the same standard of living for the child and is not affected by the cohabitation of a parent with another person. A parent must keep paying child support even if cohabitation is a substantial change in circumstances for the payment of spousal support.
Cohabitation can ultimately have a substantial impact on the payment and receipt of spousal support in Washington after a divorce. If you would like to speak with an expert in Washington divorce law about how cohabitation might affect your case, call the office or contact us today in Spokane at the Hodgson Law Office for a consultation.