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How Cohabitation Affects Spousal Support

The Micklin Law Group- How Cohabitation Affects Spousal Support

One major issue relevant to spousal support is cohabitation. Moving in with someone else during or after your divorce can mean that the spousal support payments should be decreased or completely eliminated due to the added support the payee is receiving.  Whether you’re a man who is in the midst of a divorce or you have been divorced for many years, you want to make sure that you’re watching for cohabitation. Make sure there are provisions that prevent it, and if it does occur during your payment, you want to have cohabitation as a trigger to review the order.

Why Cohabitation Affects Support

Cohabitation with someone other than your spouse is common during a divorce. Sometimes it’s because partners have moved on and entered new relationships. This is especially true if the marriage is ending due to infidelity. Sometimes it’s because of financial need: a spouse moves in with a partner, friend, or family member because they can’t afford to live on their own. This is going to impact their needs, and it may impact the support you’re paying. This is usually better for the spouse who is paying for support because it means that your spouse’s living expenses have decreased. For example, maybe she doesn’t have to pay rent because she’s staying with family. You will have to pay less because you don’t have to help cover her rent.

How to Spot Cohabitation

If you would like to have your spousal support order revised because you suspect your ex is cohabitating with someone, you’ll need to have compelling evidence. You may find this out by yourself or by hiring a private investigator. Finding evidence of cohabitation can be tricky, and if you’re looking for the evidence yourself, there are a few things you’ll want to stay away from. For example, GPS devices and trackers may be considered unlawful, and in many circumstances it can even be considered evidence of domestic violence. Following your ex on foot or in a car to try to catch her at home with someone else is also risky. One thing you can do is look on her social media accounts to see if there is any evidence there. If your ex has a private Instagram account, for example, and posts a photo of her moving into her boyfriend’s house, that’s pretty convincing evidence for a judge. 

Sometimes having a private investigator look into cohabitation takes the risk off of the client, because the client’s not the one doing it. The investigator’s purpose is to gather information professionally, so they have a different goal than a “scorned spouse” in a high-conflict case. A judge will usually be pleased that you went about gathering this information in a professional way, so speak to your family law attorney about possibly hiring an investigator if cohabitation is likely to be an issue. You always want to make sure that you do it properly and that it doesn’t compromise your case.

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