Can cohabitation end an alimony obligation?

The conclusion of your divorce proceedings in New York simultaneously marks the beginning of many elements related to it. One of those may be an alimony obligation, which you might have to pay if you were the primary income earner in your marital home.

Initially, you may have no issue helping your ex-spouse out financially as they transition into their post-divorce life. Yet alimony (also known as “spousal maintenance“) is typically not meant to last forever. Rather, it is only meant to provide support until they either secure gainful employment on their own or re-marry. Your ex-spouse may proceed toward the latter scenario should they enter into a new relationship. However, they may think that should they avoid remarrying (and instead cohabitate), your remain obligated to pay then alimony.

The effect of cohabitation on alimony

Lawmakers typically do not care for people looking to exploit perceived loopholes in statutes. For this reason, they provide added clarity to cover any number of potential contingencies. This includes the law regarding spousal maintenance. Per Section 248 of New York’s Domestic Relations Law, a case where an alimony payee begins to habitually live with another partner warrants the consideration of the court to determine whether said payee still needs alimony.

How to show a supportive relationship exists

The law specifically states that to qualify for consideration for modification, your ex-spouse’s case must include evidence of them holding themselves out to others as their partner’s spouse. The legal term for this is a “supportive relationship.” Methods of showing that your ex-spouse’s relationship is supportive (outside of them living with their new partner) include proof that the two commingle their finances, or that the two share ownership of significant assets (such as a home or a car).