Spousal support is often awarded to the lower-earning spouse to help maintain the lifestyle the couple built and shared as a married union. Whether the support was granted before the divorce or after, the support (if it is temporary) will end at a particular date and time; unless the supported spouse remarries. What if, then, the supported spouse merely wants to cohabitate with a lover while receiving spousal support? Is alimony affected by shacking up?
California divorce attorney John Griffith of Griffith, Young, and Lass says yes.
California Alimony Law
“When a supported party cohabitates with another, California law sees it as the new couple supporting one another and sharing household chores,” Griffith said.
Are You Worried About Your Spousal Payments While Cohabitating with a Lover?
Griffith points to California Family Law 4323(a) which states that “When a supported party is cohabitating with a nonmarital partner, there’s a rebuttable presumption of decreased need for support unless the parties agree otherwise in writing.”
However, getting alimony modified in California may not be so easy, even if the supported party is living in a state of cohabitation.
When Alimony Can Be Modified
Griffith explains that to have spousal support stopped or decreased, the burden of proof is on the spouse ordered to pay.
According to California law, the supporting spouse must prove that the supported spouse is in a romantic relationship with the cohabitant. Spousal support will not be modified if it is proven that the cohabitant is a roommate or engaged in a boarding arrangement.
Must Prove Evidence of a Relationship
To gather proof of a romantic relationship, the supporting spouse will need to collect evidence. Griffith says that getting such evidence isn’t always easy, and may force the supporting party to get creative.
“In order to modify alimony in the state of California, the supporting spouse will need to gather proof in the form of social media posts, photographs or witness testimony. In some cases, a private investigator can uncover whether or not the supported spouse is in a romantic relationship with the cohabitant,” Griffith said.
Griffith stresses that cohabitating with a lover will not terminate spousal support outright. He recommends anyone looking to maintain support while cohabitating to seek the advice of a qualified California divorce attorney.
“By learning more about California alimony law, you can protect your rights and your right to support while you seek to move on with your life following divorce.”
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