Spousal Support Can Be Terminated By Cohabitation or Remarriage

 Posted on May 10, 2016 in Alimony/Spousal Support

spousal support, cohabitation, Illinois divorce lawyerIn Illinois, courts may order one spouse to pay spousal support to the other at the conclusion of a divorce. Whether the court awards spousal support depends on several factors, including the length of the marriage, the needs of the parties, present and future income, and the standard of living that the couple had while married.

For obvious reasons, many former spouses dislike making this monthly payment to their ex. The common thinking that is that they will not have to make this payment once their ex remarries. There are many anecdotal stories out there about former spouses delaying or avoiding second marriages to continue to collect spousal support. However, Illinois law disfavors these tactics. Under state law, spousal support terminates when the former spouse receiving it begins cohabitating with another person. A new marriage is not required to end these payments

What Is Cohabitation Under Illinois Law?

Illinois has a specific definition for what amounts to cohabitation. If your ex shares a home with a roommate or moves in with a parent or sibling, this does not constitute cohabitation. Section 750 ILCS 5/510(c)(3) of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act states that a former spouse shall no longer receive maintenance from an ex when he or she “cohabits with another person on a resident, continuing conjugal basis.”

The exact meaning of this phrase has been debated in many cases over the years. The gist of it, in most cases, is that living with another person in the course of a romantic relationship terminates the right to receive spousal maintenance. The idea behind this is that it is unfair for someone to receive the benefits from both a current and former partner simply because he or she is not in a legal relationship with the current partner.

Cohabitation Considerations

Similar to how Illinois courts look at several factors when deciding whether to award spousal maintenance, courts look at a few different factors in determining whether a cohabitation exists on a “resident, continuing conjugal basis.”

The court will first look to the length of the new relationship and how much time the couple spends together. A court will be much less likely to find that a couple living together only a few weeks is cohabitating.

Next, the court will consider what sort of presence the former spouse has in the new residence. Does he or she just keep an overnight bag there, or have they moved in all of their property?

The court will also want to know about the conduct of the of the couple, whether they date, and of course whether they have commingled any assets, such as a checking account. This is among the strongest evidence that a cohabitation arrangement exists and the former spouse is no longer entitled to maintenance.

Contact an Experienced Illinois Divorce Attorney

Spousal support is a complicated area of the law in Illinois. It can be difficult to know when you are entitled to it or when your obligation to pay it ends. However, an Illinois family law attorney can help you understand your obligations when it comes to alimony. Contact our office today to speak with one of our DuPage County family law attorneys about your case.


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