How Cohabitation Affects Alimony Payments

Tue 3rd November, 2020 Family Law

In many cases of California divorce, the higher earning spouse will pay the lesser earning spouse alimony during and after the divorce proceedings. Some alimony is short-term and has a definite duration, while other alimony payments may go on indefinitely. Former spouses are able to petition the court for a modification or termination of alimony payments for a number of reasons, such as remarriage, but is it possible if a former spouse receiving alimony starts to cohabitate with another person? At the Law Office of Bradley S. Sandler in Beverly Hills, our dedicated divorce attorney is here to answer this and any other legal questions you have pertaining to your divorce. Call or contact us today to learn more.

What is Cohabitation?

Cohabitation does not have a standard definition in California law. Cohabitation refers to a living with a non-marital partner who is more than a roommate. There must be an intimate, interpersonal relationship, but a former spouse petitioning for a decrease in alimony based on cohabitation does not have to prove that sex has occurred between the couple. A couple does not have to hold themselves out as married to cohabitate, nor does holding themselves out to others as married necessarily constitute cohabitation under the law. For the purposes of modifying or terminating alimony, what is important is that the cohabitating couple has a financial interdependence, where one or both are taking care of expenses.

Some examples of evidence that a couple is cohabitating include the following:

  • Using the same mailing address
  • Purchasing property together
  • Investing in or renovating real estate or personal property together
  • Financially supporting each other or each other’s relatives
  • Using the same last name

Talk to an experienced divorce attorney if you have questions about whether a situation qualifies as cohabitation in California.

California Cohabitation Law

Under California law, there is a rebuttable presumption that when a former spouse receiving alimony payments cohabitates with another person there is a decreased need for spousal support. However, the spouse receiving payments has the opportunity to offer evidence that there is no reduced need and that alimony payments should continue as ordered. The court is not allowed to take into consideration the income of the cohabitating partner, but it can consider what share of the expenses the cohabitating partner is paying for and how that impacts the recipient spouse’s need for alimony payments to maintain their standard of living. If there is proof of a reduced need for alimony payments, the court can either modify the existing order to decrease the amount of alimony paid or terminate the order altogether. 

Call or Contact Us Today

Cohabitation can have a substantial impact on alimony payments in California. If you are making or receiving alimony payments and cohabitation is an issue, talk with a knowledgeable divorce attorney about your situation today. Call the office or contact us at the Law Office of Bradley S. Sandler in Beverly Hills today to schedule a case consultation.