Your divorce is final. All the judgements have been entered, the custody battles have ended, and the support payments have started. You are eager to move on with your life and find someone new to spend your time with. If you depend on your support payments, you must be careful if things begin to get serious. If you have a desire to live with your new significant other, it could mean living without your ex’s support payments.
Illinois is one of the many states where cohabitation will end spousal support payments from an ex. The idea of spousal support is to help the less financially secure spouse in the divorce transition into life as a single person. Generally, spouses make different amounts of money, and the one that earns less will need time to adjust. Support payments are the discretion of the family law judge, and different factors are taken into consideration. These include the previous standard of living, income level in relation to the income of the spouse, education level as compared to the spouse, and other levels. Once the Court determines that a spouse is a candidate for alimony payments, Illinois law uses mathematical formulas to determine how much the spouse receives from his or her ex, and for how long.
The prevailing rationalization on why cohabiting terminates maintenance is that two people living in the same residence are often each contributing to the living arrangement. Therefore, it would be unfair to make an ex continue to pay support if the spouse is already receiving support from a live-in partner. This logic in undeniable, but what constitutes cohabitation for the purpose of spousal support?
The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act says that support will be ended if the party receiving support cohabits with another person on a resident, continuing, conjugal basis. From the Act’s plain language, this means that if the party receiving support were living with another as a married couple would live together, support would be terminated.
Illinois courts have interpreted the law in this way. The Illinois Supreme Court has said that two people must be in a husband-and-wife-like relationship, and that the family law judge must consider the unique nature of each relationship when determining if cohabiting exists. For example, non-married couples will often share joint accounts for purposes of paying bills, take vacations together, stay overnight together the majority of the time, maintain joint cell phone accounts, etc. In one court, cohabitation was even found when a boyfriend would often stay overnight at the home of the party that was getting support, despite the fact he still had his own home. The court?s decision was based on the length of the relationship, vacations that were taken together, and various other factors that showed the parties were acting similar to how a married couple lives. The judge in these cases must take every aspect of these relationships into consideration, and their decision will not be questioned if it was not against the weight of the evidence.
Seek the Advice of a Family Law Attorney
Support payments are an important part of the divorce process. Needs and circumstances change, and the support needs to be able to change as well. Modification is a strong possibility for support payments, either going up or down. At Sherer Law Offices, our experienced family law attorneys can guide you through the process and help you get the results you need.