Cohabitation and Alimony Payments in Illinois
Awarding alimony to stay-at-home parents that terminates when their youngest child turns 18, or when they remarry — whichever comes first — is not an uncommon action by the Court. Not wanting to lose alimony payments, however, some decide to never marry again and intend on receiving the alimony payments for the duration of their entire lives.
But what if a spouse who receives alimony moves in and establishes a relationship with a new partner that is akin to marriage, minus the official papers? Can alimony be terminated?
Modification of Palatine Alimony Award Based on Cohabitation
Under Illinois law, an alimony award can be terminated if a person receiving spousal support (the obligee) “cohabits with another person on a resident, continuing conjugal basis.” The purpose of this law is to prevent the situation mentioned above — a person who purposely remains unmarried just to be continue to receive spousal support.
The cohabitation cannot be with a family member and must be more than a roommate-type situation. If the obligee moves in with his or her brother, or takes on a renter, in order to save costs, that is not sufficient to rise to the level of cohabitation. Instead, the parties must provide each other with some mutual level of support.
The cohabitation does not have to be daily. In fact, the Court has ruled that a couple was cohabiting, even though the obligee’s boyfriend maintained a separate apartment and slept there a few nights a week, because he spent the night frequently enough, and ate his meals there nightly.
When determining whether the obligee is living with another person on a resident, continuing conjugal basis, the person paying spousal support has the burden of proving that his or her ex-spouse’s new relationship rises to this level.
Factors that the Court may consider as proving the relationship meets the “resident, continuing conjugal basis” standard include:
- Whether the couple has sexual relations;
- The length of the relationship;
- The frequency of their overnight stays at each other’s house, if the couple does not live together;
- If the couple lives together, whether they jointly own the property, or whether they both contribute to the mortgage;
- Whether the couple holds themselves out as a married couple;
- Whether the parties have joint bank accounts or otherwise share household expenses;
- Whether they have children together, or whether they support each other’s children; or
- Whether they vacation together.
No one single factor is determinative of whether the couple cohabits on a continuing, conjugal basis. Instead, the Court looks at all of the factors in light of the couple’s relationship when making a decision as to whether the relationship is similar enough to a marriage that spousal support should be terminated.
Palatine Alimony Attorney
If you are paying spousal support and your ex-spouse has moved in with a new partner, you may be able to have your alimony payments terminated. If you find yourself in this situation, Palatine spousal support attorney Nicholas W. Richardson can help. With more than 10 years experience handling spousal support modification hearings, Mr. Richardson will review the details of your ex’s new relationship and help you determine whether it rises to the level required for a termination order. Contact the office today to schedule a free consultation and to learn how Attorney Richardson can be of service.