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Spousal Support Considerations: Does Cohabitation Revoke Alimony?


Spousal Support Considerations

spousal support considerationsIn about 50 percent of current divorces handled by Milford, Michigan Divorce Attorney Kathryn Wayne-Spindler, one party receives alimony. The eligibility and amount of the spousal support is calculated based on many factors including actual income; potential income; age; length of the marriage; health and fitness of both parties; need; and ability to pay.

Revocation of Alimony

In most divorce judgments, the orders stipulate that alimony payments either end after a certain period or upon death or remarriage. Some alimony recipients seeking to continue receiving payments and proceed with a new relationship avoid remarrying. They instead choose to cohabitate with the new partner.

“Some spousal support recipients know that the payments end if they remarry,” said Spousal Support Attorney Wayne-Spindler. “So, as they are moving on into new romances, they figure they are safe as long as they don’t actually marry. That’s not always the case now.”

Increasingly, divorce lawyers are seeing this trend and encouraging divorcing clients to include a stipulation about alimony payments ending upon cohabitation as well as remarriage. Depending on the negotiated language of the Judgment of Divorce (JOD), the spousal support payments can discontinue if the recipient cohabitates.

In one 2010 case in Ingham County, a couple divorced and in the JOD, the language specified that the spousal support would continue for five years or, “the defendant’s spousal support obligation would terminate upon plaintiff’s death or upon plaintiff’s ‘cohabitation with an unrelated male.’”

This is becoming a more popular addition to spousal support language. More attorneys are recognizing that a dependent ex-spouse should not be eligible to receive spousal support while also being financially supported by a boyfriend or girlfriend.

The intent of alimony is to allow an unemployed or underemployed spouse the time to prepare to be financially self-sufficient after divorce. In the case of homemakers who gave up a career to stay home and raise children, alimony evens out the income level while the “stay-at-home parent” gets retrained or seeks new work. Alimony is not intended to be punitive toward the payer or to make up for lost income during the marriage. Alimony is not earned by sacrifices made during the marriage. Although the courts take into account how long the recipient did not work during the marriage, it is simply for the purposes of considering how long it might reasonably take for that person to reenter the workplace and regain a livable income. Therefore, the courts are not looking at alimony as an entitlement of a non-wage earning spouse. It is intended to help a newly-single person adapt to paying his/her own living expenses.

In the case of cohabitation with a new partner, it is assumed that if the couple is committed enough to live together in the same house, they are also sharing living expenses – a mortgage, utilities, car payments, etc. Therefore, the burden of being solely responsible for one’s life expenses is lifted. It is reasoned that the alimony payer should no longer be under obligation to subsidize his or her ex-spouse’s reintroduction to financial independence if that person has financial support from another source. Likewise, even if it isn’t in the Judgment of Divorce, it is a reason to reopen a modifiable award for alimony and ask the court to terminate or reconsider the amount.

Experienced White Lake Spousal Support Attorney knows spousal support considerations

White Lake Spousal Support Attorney Kathryn Wayne-Spindler is experienced at creating spousal support agreements that are satisfactory to all parties – the defendant, plaintiff, judges and opposing counsel. Her years of experience with both Judgments of Divorce and Post-Judgment Modifications allow her to prepare clients for their most positive divorce outcomes. Depend on Kathryn Wayne-Spindler for experienced, knowledgeable, and aggressive representation in all matters of divorce including alimony, child support, separation of marital assets, parenting time plans and post-judgment modifications and enforcement. Contact her Milford, Michigan office at 248-685-8888.

Written and Posted by Christine Donlon Long, Communications’ Specialist for Kathryn Wayne-Spindler & Associates