Two’s Company, Three’s a Crowd: How Cohabitation Can Affect Your Spousal Support

Living with a new significant other could significantly affect the amount of spousal support you could receive. In cases involving spousal support, the court has a system to determine whether or not spousal support should be modified.

First, the court starts out with the analysis of the “type” of cohabitation. In order to prove it is a “type” within the meaning of Family Code 4323, and where it could affect spousal support, there must be proof that it is a “romantic, sexual and companion relationship”. In other words, it cannot be roommates.

Once it is established that the cohabitation is that of lovers as opposed to that of roommates, there is an assumption that the need for spousal support has been decreased. Next, the court moves on to the issue of reevaluating the need for support.
Generally, when a court determines spousal support, during the initial divorce they look at how much money is needed to maintain the same life you had when you were married.

So when a person raises the cohabitation presumption, basically, the court goes back and reevaluates the need for support once again. The burden is on the person receiving the support to prove that you do, in fact, still need the same amount of money to maintain your standard of living, despite your new living accommodations.

Some important factors that the court would consider would be:

  • Have you and the person you are living with combined finances? Do you have joint bank accounts? Do you have access to the other person’s income?
  • Do you contribute to the household bills, buy groceries, pay rent? Are you responsible for any bills in particular at the other person’s home (or vice versa)?
  • What are your own bills? (e.g. car payment, supplementing the rent on your house, any installment payments such as credit cards, loans, etc.)

Although the court can’t necessarily consider the other person’s income, it becomes relevant when the person you’re living with is a millionaire and you claim to the court that he/she is making you pay rent. In this case, it is obvious that the court will not consider a result in your favor.

In other words, in order to overcome the presumption, you have to prove to the court that you still need the same amount of money per month as before you were living with your significant other to maintain your life.

If you are paying spousal support to someone who is living with a significant other, please call Moore Law Group for a free consultation to determine whether you may be successful in reducing your support. Likewise, if you are receiving spousal support and living with a significant other, and you are facing a possible reduction in support, call Moore Law Group for a complimentary consulation to find out whether you can overcome the cohabitation presumption. (951)710-3204

The following two tabs change content below.
Moore Family Law Group - Holly Moore
Holly has an illustrious resume, filled with an impressive number of awards and professional recognition in the field of family law. Holly has appeared at thousands of family law hearings and trials and has represented over 500 clients in divorce and custody matters; but that is not the distinguishing characteristic that makes her unique or a great attorney.

3 Comments

  • V says:

    Hi, thanks for pointing me to your blog!
    You mentioned “there must be proof that it is a “romantic, sexual and companion relationship”. In other words, it cannot be roommates”,
    How could/would the supporter (my ex) possibly go about proving this? Is it common for witnesses to be called in that can testify on the fact that we’re in a romantic relationship? What are the common procedures an attorney would go about to prove this?

  • Holly Moore says:

    You are welcome and thanks for stoppping by!
    Yes, to prove up the relationship of the “cohabitor”, an attorney would probably start by cross examining you, bring in the cohabitor to testify, bring in other witnesses, if others have seen you acting as a “couple”. They could also subpoena bank accounts, phone records, emails, facebook status/pages, pictures etc etc. Any evidence that would show that this is in fact a romantic relationship, the attorney would use one discovery mechanism or another to obtain and present that information.
    However, I wouldnt get too hung up on trying to “disprove” the romantic part (unless it is truly not romantic) because even if it is romantic, if you are able to prove that the need has not changed, then the presumption to modify or terminate support is defeated.

  • V says:

    Your comments and insight are truly valuable. Thank you again for your time!
    The court ordered a temporary spousal support 5 years ago but he never paid, so I’m going after arrears and to make sure I actually GET future alimony through wage garnishment. My only concern was him bringing up cohabitation and the possibility of my support being lowered/terminated.
    The need has not changed, as I’ve been ill for years and just applied for disability, and my cohabitant is not paying bills/financially supporting here, nor are there shared bank accounts.