Do you have to keep paying alimony if your ex-spouse cohabitates?

Griffin Law, PLLC
Feb 03, 2020

If you and your spouse choose to get a divorce (and you were the primary income earner in your home in Statesville), then it may seem reasonable for the court to request that you provide your now ex-spouse with financial support as they transition into their new life. Such spousal support, however, is typically not meant to be permanent. Rather, the court will often order that your obligation should end when your ex-spouse either remarries or becomes capable of supporting themselves on their own. Parental responsibilities may prevent the latter from being a realistic possibility, yet there is always the chance they could enter into another relationship.

However, what if your ex-spouse chooses to cohabitate with their new partner rather than getting married, believing that by doing so, you will remain obligated to pay them alimony? North Carolina state court rulings have recognized this as acting in bad faith, and thus put legal standards in place to end your alimony obligation if your ex-spouse enters into a supportive relationship. The burden of proof will typically fall to you, though, to demonstrate that the relationship is indeed supportive.

Some of the elements that the court can consider when deciding if a relationship is supportive may include:

  • The degree to which your ex-spouse and their new partner have comingled their assets
  • Whether the new partner has provided financial support to your ex-spouse’s children
  • If your ex-spouse and your new partner are living together (and sharing the responsibility of paying their living expenses)
  • Whether your ex-spouse and their new partner have purchased anything of value together

Even the degree to which your ex-spouse and their new partner present themselves to others as a married couple can be used as evidence of a supportive relationship.

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