How Is Spousal Support Affected by Cohabitation?

August 18, 2016

spousal support

Ohio law offers several possible answers to the question of whether moving in with a new partner will affect spousal support payments. Consulting with a knowledgeable spousal support attorney is probably the only way to determine what possibilities exist in your case. To help you prepare to take part in such a consultation, the alimony lawyers with Edward F. Whipps & Associates present the following summary. 

A divorce decree in Ohio can make paying spousal support a perpetual obligation

Most judges who award spousal support limit the obligation to pay to a fixed number of months or years. Terminating alimony by a certain date is not required by law, however. This means that a divorce decree that specifies spousal support but lacks a clause that states when the obligation to pay alimony ends technically requires payment of spousal support in perpetuity. Remarriage by the recipient of spousal support will end the obligation, but cohabitation will not unless the person paying alimony can convince a judge to change the original order

Simply living together may not constitute cohabitation. 

The person who pays spousal support must ask a court for any change in the alimony arrangement. In Ohio, spousal support recipients have no automatic duty to report a remarriage or live-in relationship. Further, merely notifying a judge of such changes in relationship status does not suffice to have an alimony arrangement invalidated. 

The person who wants to modify spousal support because of cohabitation must convince a divorce court judge that his or her former spouse has entered a long-term, live-in sexual relationship with someone else. The petitioner must also present evidence that the new romantic partner is sharing household expenses or otherwise providing financial support to their ex-spouse. 

Speaking with an Ohio spousal support attorney will help you understand how to legally collect and present evidence of cohabitation. Your legal advisor may also be able to guide you through the process of hiring and dealing with an ethical and professional investigator who can gather the proof needed to use cohabitation as an argument for reducing or cancelling alimony payments

Each decision about modifying or eliminating spousal support is unique. 

If a judge finds enough evidence of cohabitation to merit consideration of modifying a spousal support order, he or she can do any of the following: 

  • Lower alimony payments by an amount that reflects the financial support from the new partner
  • Affirm the existing amount of spousal support payments but move up the date on which the obligation to make payments ends
  • Lift the order to pay spousal support immediately
  • Make no changes to the existing alimony arrangement 

Each different outcome is possible because spousal support exists to allow a former wife or husband to enjoy a lifestyle similar to the one they had while married. For instance, if a new partner’s financial contributions fall well below the money paid in alimony, a judge has the authority to uphold the original spousal support order. Conversely, a judge will generally view entering into a relationship with a new partner who has much greater financial resources than the person paying alimony as a situation that relieve the need for spousal support. 

To discuss the specifics of your spousal support modification case, call the divorce and family law attorneys with Edward F. Whipps at (614) 461-6006. You can also connect with us online.




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