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The Effect of Cohabitation on a Maintenance Order

Posted on in Spousal Maintenance

Naperville divorce attorneysIn the state of Illinois, the statues covering spousal maintenance are contained in the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act. Spousal maintenance—sometimes known as alimony—is not a presumed right for either spouse. Instead, it may be awarded on a discretionary basis if the court decides that it is appropriate in a particular divorce case.

When determining whether or not to award maintenance, there are a number of factors a judge must consider, such as how long the couple was married, what was the standard of living the couple enjoyed while together, and what the income is of each spouse. If spousal maintenance is awarded, law provides a formula to be used in calculating how much will be paid and for how long.

An order of spousal support—even if it is intended to be “permanent”—usually includes a stipulation that the support will terminate if the receiving spouse remarries or enters into a cohabiting relationship. Remarriage is easy to prove because marriage requires a license. Cohabitation, however, can be much more difficult to prove, especially if the ex-spouse is making a concerted effort to hide the fact that he or she is living with someone.

If you suspect your ex-spouse is sharing a home with a new romantic partner, there are some signs to watch for which will be useful should you have to file a legal motion to terminate spousal maintenance. These signs include:

  • The new partner is spending the majority of their time at your ex’s residence;
  • The new partner does not have a residence of his or her own. He or she may claim to live with a parent or friend;
  • Your ex’s garage is suddenly filled up with someone else’s belongings;
  • The new partner is helping out with household chores, such as yard work, laundry, cooking, cleaning, etc.;
  • Utility bills are no longer just in your ex’s name;
  • Cell phone records show overnight “visits” exceed the average weekend overnights or vacation time;
  • There is a sudden change in your ex’s financial habits and the availability of extra cash;
  • Social media sites reveal your ex and significant other attends most family events, holidays, etc. together; and
  • Your children have been told not to reveal that your ex’s boyfriend or girlfriend sleeps over all the time.

Simply living with someone in a traditional “roommate” arrangement does not constitute cohabiting for the purposes of ending a maintenance order. Instead, your spouse must be living with a new partner on a “resident, continuing conjugal basis,” which has been interpreted by Illinois courts to mean a marriage-like relationship.

If you have been ordered to pay spousal maintenance and suspect that your ex-spouse is cohabitating with a new partner, contact a Naperville family law attorney. Schedule a free consultation at Pesce Law Group, P.C. to discuss your legal options today.


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