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Cohabitation can put alimony at risk

Connecticut readers who pay or receive alimony may be interested to know that the marriage-like relationship known as cohabitation may allow the spouse making the support payments to go to court and have them reduced or eliminated. This is due to the fact that spousal support is intended to keep the spouse receiving it in a financial position to maintain a certain lifestyle.

If there is another person living with the individual receiving the payments, certain things must be proven before an order to terminate alimony can be issued. Things that may prove a couple is living together include three or more consecutive nights spend together during the period of a week, sharing chores, telling the children not to reveal the partner is living at the house or even shared bills.

However, after any of these factors are proven, the party making the payments needs to make sure that the cost of going to court is worthwhile. For example, an alimony payment of $200 a month over three years amounts to $7,200, and it would be fairly easy for legal fees to be more than this amount. However, parties paying $2,000 per month for 10 years will likely save money if the payments can be successfully terminated.

Alimony payments are often an emotionally charged issue, and the person making the payments may be outraged enough by their ex-spouse's living situation to want the support eliminated on principle. In general, care needs to be taken not to allow the court costs and other expenses related to proving cohabitation to end up costing more than the alimony itself. The success in court is highly dependent on what can be proven about the living situation of the person receiving the spousal support, and it is often not easy to compile the necessary information to solidly prove the cohabitation.

Source: The Huffington Post, "How to Evaluate if Cohabitation Has Placed Alimony at Risk", Diane Danois , March 21, 2014

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