Tag Archives: cohabitation

Termination of Spousal Support Before a Spouse Remarries

spousal support, DuPage County family law attorneysAs a general rule, when a couple gets divorced in Illinois, spousal support payments are ordered if one spouse’s income is significantly higher than the other’s, in the interest of equity. However, most of the time, these support payments are not intended to last forever. There are several different ways that spousal support is granted to a husband or wife, and modifications may be made after certain criteria have been fulfilled by the obligor or the obligee (or both), or in certain situations which are provided for in statutory law.

Rehabilitative Maintenance

One situation where spousal support is granted with the express intention that there will come a point when payments will slow or cease entirely is when one spouse requires temporary aid. It is still fairly common for Illinois couples to adhere to the old model of marriage where one spouse is the primary breadwinner and the other stays home with the children. As such, upon divorce, many homemakers have no income and outdated skills, and they cannot just jump back into the workforce. In these types of situations, a court may grant rehabilitative maintenance, also known as reviewable maintenance. This will last for a fixed period, determined by a number of factors, including the size of the income disparity, the length of the marriage, and whether or not any children were born of the marriage.

While the point of reviewable maintenance awards is that they may be re-examined at a later date after their issuance, some maintenance awards have a definitive end. If a marriage has lasted less than 10 years, and maintenance is awarded to one spouse, a court will sometimes establish that the date on which maintenance payments cease will be the permanent termination date. In other words, the court will foreclose on the possibility of any further maintenance, usually due to the relatively short length of the marriage.

Cohabitation Considerations

Another common reason for modification or termination of spousal support is if the obligee begins to cohabitate with another person. Cohabitation is defined in Illinois law as an arrangement in which two people live together on a “resident, continuing conjugal basis.” Contrary to popular belief, this does not require the existence of a sexual relationship. While each case is unique, a variety of actions and habits have been used to prove cohabitation, such as sharing bank accounts, taking vacations together, and naming each other in estate planning documents or as insurance beneficiaries.

Unlike in many other states, in Illinois, maintenance obligations do not end only upon the obligee’s remarriage; rather, the obligation to pay maintenance ends on the date that the court finds cohabitation began. The rationale behind this choice is that cohabitation is a “conjugal” state of being, and “conjugal”—while colloquially assumed to refer to sexual relationships—is simply defined as having to do with marriage, or relating to the state of being married. If someone is in a quasi-marital relationship, it can be reasonably assumed that they are being supported already and that they do not need the obligor’s payments to sustain them.

Seek Experienced Legal Assistance

While in most cases, maintenance obligations will terminate upon the death or remarriage of your former spouse, it is important to be aware that there are exceptions. You may be able to stop paying at an earlier date than you anticipated. Consulting an experienced attorney can help clarify matters. Our dedicated DuPage County spousal maintenance attorneys are happy to sit down with you and to address your questions. Call us today to set up a free initial consultation.




Cohabitation Agreements in Illinois

cohabitation, Wheaton family law attorneysIt has been a source of confusion to the older generation that many young people in the United States have chosen either to not marry or to wait on marriage until later in life. It is true that there are some advantages to marrying aside from the obvious ones, such as streamlined tax preparation, but for many, there are perks to remaining single. Besides, many argue that they can obtain the best of both worlds via cohabitation, as long as an appropriate cohabitation agreement is signed and executed, so that both partners’ assets and rights are protected.

Do I Need A Cohabitation Agreement?

Not every cohabitating couple needs an agreement. Some do quite well without any kind of legal documentation of their relationship. The tradeoff, however, is that no assets of any kind may commingle, and one has no legal recourse regarding their partner’s assets if they predecease the other. Illinois does not recognize cohabitating couples as having any kind of legal relationship unless they have a valid cohabitation agreement. While being married may not be a couple’s first choice, if they want any legal rights to the fruits of their relationship, they must take definitive action.

Many Illinois couples that choose to cohabitate do, in fact, execute a cohabitation agreement, because certain common situations affect many of them. Examples include owning real property together (in both parties’ names), having children and wanting to set down parental roles in writing, and estate planning needs such as naming one’s partner as executor. Since many of these situations are covered in statutory law when it comes to married couples, a couple that prefers to cohabitate must specifically delineate them in their agreement.

Be Careful Not to Lose Your Spousal Support

One major potential pitfall regarding cohabitation is that under Illinois law, a person who is cohabiting with someone else (not necessarily in a romantic fashion) after a divorce may be deemed to be receiving support from them. This determination terminates any spousal support that the person was being paid as a result of the divorce.

The key phrase in the relevant law is that a cohabitation will likely be found to exist if the two people are living together on a “resident, continuing, conjugal basis.” If two people are not living together, there is no cohabitation. If the two people live together only sporadically, there is no cohabitation. Keep in mind that the word “conjugal” has several definitions, and whether or not it applies in any given case is usually decided specifically for that case. Certain actions like sharing bank accounts and other finances, taking vacations together or naming each other on insurance policies or wills generally tip most courts toward deciding in favor of cohabitation, but each situation is different.

Have Questions About Cohabitation?

Relatively few couples chose to cohabitate instead of marry until perhaps the last decade or so, but the trend continues to rise. If you and your partner have chosen to cohabitate rather than wed, it is important to ensure your assets and legal rights are protected. Our dedicated DuPage County cohabitation attorneys can sit down with you and help answer your questions. Call us today to set up an appointment.




Maintenance and Cohabitation After Divorce

cohabitation, Wheaton divorce attorneyIn most cases, spousal maintenance is used as  a tool to help newly divorced people adapt from a two-income household to two single-income households. Eventually, maintenance ceases, usually after a financial goal or time limit is reached – however, in Illinois and a handful of other states, it can end earlier. Cohabitating after your divorce is final, in particular, can have unintended consequences.

A “Substantial Change in Circumstances”

Generally in Illinois, maintenance is ordered by the family court or agreed upon between the spouses. It will be granted to the spouse the court deems to be in the most need of it, based on a number of factors. Some of the most important include:

  • Income and debt levels of both spouses;
  • Current financial need (at the time of the divorce) and future earning capacity;
  • The marital standard of living;
  • The duration of the marriage; and
  • Several other factors relating to each spouse’s ability to earn income and pay bills in the future.

It is possible that a court will not order maintenance if both spouses are fairly equal in financial terms, or if both have roughly equal ability to earn income in the present and future. However, once maintenance is awarded, it will last for a period set by the court in accordance with guidelines in the law. Maintenance orders can only end before the ordered expiration date if what the law refers to as a “substantial change in circumstances” occurs. The most common “substantial change in circumstances” is remarriage, but what many are not aware of is that it also may apply to some cohabitations.

Terminating Maintenance Based On Cohabitation

Cohabitating is fairly common in adults, especially among the divorced. The second time around, many people want to “try things out” first and live together before actually tying the knot. If a person receiving maintenance, however, cohabitates with a new partner in a specific manner, the maintenance obligation may be terminated by the court. It is important to realize that this does not mean that a divorced individual who moves in with a roommate runs the risk of losing their maintenance payment.

Illinois law states that maintenance obligations may end if the spouse receiving maintenance begins to cohabitate with another person on a “resident, continuing, conjugal basis.” The definition of this term is somewhat open to interpretation, and Illinois courts use a number of issues in deciding whether or not maintenance may be terminated. It is important to note that under current Illinois law, a ‘conjugal’ relationship does not necessarily have to be sexual. If two people are living together in a way that suggests they are a couple—for example, having joint accounts, spending significant amounts of time together, and the like—the arrangement may be found to be cohabitation regardless of whether or not the relationship is physically intimate.

Ask a Divorce Attorney

If you are considering moving in with a new partner and have questions about your eligibility to continue receiving maintenance payments, contact an experienced Wheaton family law attorney. Call 630-871-1002 for a free consultation at the Andrew Cores Family Law Group today.