State courts have jurisdiction over divorces taking place within their state, and thus divorce laws can vary by state. One area in which states have very differing laws is the matter of cohabitation and how it affects alimony (aka spousal maintenance or spousal support) payments to an ex-spouse.
Massachusetts recently passed a law determining that if the court finds that a divorced person who is receiving spousal support payments is living with a significant other, the court can choose to stop, decrease, or suspend their spousal maintenance payments. The key is that the cohabitation must be conjugal, meaning that sharing a space with a platonic roommate does not affect alimony payments. The court did not specify exactly what type of evidence is needed to prove this, and many ex-spouses have taken it upon themselves to prove this by hiring private investigators.
Illinois divorce laws are similar. In most cases, spousal support payments will stop if the court finds that someone is living with another person on what’s defined as a “resident, continuing, conjugal basis.” In deciding if a cohabitation arrangement fits this description, the court will look at factors including the nature of the cohabitators’ relationship and the economic impact of the cohabitation arrangements on the ex-spouse who is receiving the support. Note that the sex of a live-in partner is not a factor in this determination.
Additionally, if a separated spouse is found to be living with a partner prior to the finalization of their divorce, they could be denied spousal maintenance in the first place.
In fact, in In re Marriage of Herrin, an Illinois divorce court ruled that a woman was in fact cohabitating with her boyfriend, despite the fact that he maintained a separate residence, because he spent the majority of his time at her home.
If you believe that you are unjustly paying spousal maintenance because your ex-spouse is cohabitating with a partner, or if your spousal maintenance payments are at risk due to what’s simply a roommate situation, don’t hesitate to consult a top DuPage county divorce lawyer.