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How Does Cohabitation with a New Partner Affect Spousal Support?


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If you're going through a divorce and are concerned about spousal support, you may be wondering how cohabitation with a new partner affects spousal support. In some cases, cohabitation can impact the amount of spousal support that's awarded or paid.

If you're dealing with this issue in Spokane, Washington, it's important to work with a Spokane spousal support lawyer who can help you understand your legal rights and options.

In this article, our team at the Hodgson Law Office will explore the question of "does cohabitation affect spousal support" and provide information on how cohabitation with a new partner can impact spousal support.

What Is Cohabitation?

Cohabitation refers to an arrangement where a couple lives together in a marriage-like fashion.

It must be more than just roommates and doesn't 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 many factors, including:

  • The length of the relationship;
  • Whether cohabitation was continuous;
  • Whether the cohabitants held themselves out as a couple;
  • Did the couple pool resources or purchase property together;
  • Whether one cohabitant has financially provided for the other cohabitant or their dependent;
  • Is the couple listed on each other’s financial accounts;
  • Does the couple share a mailing address and more.

If a former spouse receiving spousal support in Washington is found to be cohabitating with another person, or if the receiving spouse remarries, it can have a substantial impact on their alimony payments. In Washington, the court may terminate or reduce spousal support if the recipient is cohabiting with another person or has remarried.

alimony cohabitation

How Can Cohabitation Affect Spousal Support?

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. 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 terminate alimony payments completely if the circumstances warrant it.

It's important to note that cohabitation doesn't 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 isn't 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.

Proving Cohabitation of Your Ex: What You Need to Know

How to prove cohabitation? Proving the cohabitation of your ex-partner can be a challenging task, but it's necessary to ensure that you're paying or receiving the appropriate amount of support. Here's a step-by-step guide to proving cohabitation to stop alimony payments:

  • Gather evidence: Collect as much evidence as possible that your ex is cohabiting with another person. This can include photographs of their living arrangements, utility bills in both names, joint tax returns, and joint leases or rental agreements. It's also helpful to have witness statements from neighbors or friends who have observed the cohabitation.
  • Hire a private investigator: If you're having difficulty obtaining evidence on your own, consider hiring a private investigator. A private investigator can discreetly gather evidence of your ex's living arrangements and provide you with a detailed report.
  • Document your own living expenses: Keep detailed records of your own living expenses, including rent, utilities, and food costs. This will be helpful in demonstrating to the court that your ex's living expenses are being shared with another person, and therefore, their support obligation should be reduced.
  • File a motion with the court: Once you've gathered sufficient evidence, file a motion with the court requesting a modification of support based on cohabitation. Be sure to provide all of the evidence you have collected and explain how it demonstrates cohabitation.
  • Attend the court hearing: If your motion is granted, you'll be required to attend a court hearing to present your evidence. Be prepared to answer questions from the judge and your ex's attorney and provide any additional evidence that may be requested.
  • Follow up: If the court grants your motion, follow up with your ex's employer or the state child support agency to ensure that the support order is modified accordingly.

Proving cohabitation can be a complex and time-consuming process, so it's important to work with an experienced divorce attorney who can guide you through the process and ensure that your rights are protected.

Cohabitation and Spousal Support: Can You Terminate Payments with Proof?

Divorce can be a challenging and complex process, especially when alimony cohabitation is involved. Even if you can prove that your ex-spouse is cohabiting with someone else, it doesn't automatically guarantee a reduction or termination of spousal support.

The court will take a careful look at the evidence presented and analyze various factors before making a decision. One of those factors is the marital standard of living, which can be a significant obstacle for those seeking a modification of spousal support.

The longer the marriage, the more entrenched and stable the standard of living becomes, making it harder to make changes. It's important to prepare yourself for a potentially tough battle in court, even with compelling evidence on your side.

does cohabitation affect spousal support

Rebutting Reduced Need: What Evidence Is Persuasive Against Presumption of Reduced Spousal Support?

If you're facing a presumption of reduced spousal support due to a reduced need, it's important to understand the evidence that can be persuasive in rebutting this presumption. Here are some types of evidence that can be effective:

  • Evidence of the recipient's health condition: If the recipient has a serious health condition or disability that affects their ability to work and support themselves, this can be persuasive evidence that their need for support has not decreased.
  • Evidence of the recipient's efforts to become self-sufficient: If the recipient is actively seeking employment or has recently completed job training or education programs, this can demonstrate their efforts to become self-sufficient and rebut the presumption of reduced need.
  • Evidence of the payor's increased income: If the payor has experienced a significant increase in their income since the original support order was established, this can be persuasive evidence that the recipient's need for support has remained.
  • Evidence of the recipient's ongoing expenses: If the recipient is still paying for expenses that were taken into account when the original support order was established, such as medical bills or childcare costs, this can demonstrate that their need for support hasn't decreased.
  • Evidence of the recipient's contributions to the marriage: If the recipient made significant contributions to the marriage, such as raising children or supporting the payor's career, this can be persuasive evidence that they deserve ongoing support.

It's important to work with an experienced family law attorney who can help you gather and present persuasive evidence to rebut the presumption of reduced need. Your attorney can also advise you on the legal requirements and procedures involved in modifying a spousal support order.

Is It Required to Prove Financial Support by Ex's Significant Other in Spousal Support Cases?

When it comes to determining spousal support, proving that your ex’s significant other financially supports them can be a game-changer.

While it’s not a requirement, having evidence that the cohabitant pays all of your ex’s bills can have a significant impact on reducing or terminating spousal support payments.

However, even if you don’t have this proof, splitting expenses with the significant other can still result in a reduced need for spousal support.

The courts have recognized this and may make a finding in your favor. It’s important to do your research and understand your options when it comes to negotiating spousal support.

Spousal Support Hearing: Does Reduced Need to Apply If Your Ex Moves Out?

If you're preparing to file a motion to reduce spousal support due to a change in your ex's the living situation, such as entering a marriage-like relationship, consider the possibility of your ex changing their living situation before your hearing.

The family court will consider any transparent maneuvers, such as moving out, in its ruling. To have the best chance of success to terminate support, make sure you have enough evidence of cohabitation or a new marriage-like relationship before filing your motion.

Keep in mind that the Court has broad discretion in determining spousal support and will weigh the credibility of your testimony and evidence.

Additionally, your ex's move-out may impact their attorney's fees request. So, be sure to gather all the evidence you can and be prepared for any possible scenario with the help of a family law attorney.

Get Assistance with Your Spousal Support Case From Hodgson Law Office

When determining an alimony award in a cohabitation or post-separation relationship, the courts look at a variety of factors that can impact the amount of money one must pay alimony. It's essential to understand these factors and how they may affect your case.

This can include the financial circumstances of both spouses and their respective lifestyles. While it's impossible to predict what may happen in each case, having legal representation can greatly improve one’s chances of obtaining a favorable outcome.

At Hodgson Law Office in Spokane, Washington, our experienced family law attorneys can provide the guidance and counsel you need to ensure your legal rights are protected.

If you have questions regarding how cohabitation may affect spousal support, contact us today for assistance. We can help you take control to ensure your future security.


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Mark D. Hodgson

Mark D. Hodgson

Mark D. Hodgson and his legal team at Hodgson Law Office provide exceptional, personalized representation in family law and divorce cases. With a commitment to trust, integrity, and vigorous advocacy, Hodgson Law Office offers reliable and compassionate legal assistance for all your family law issues.

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