After your divorce has been finalized and the decisions related to spousal maintenance (known in other states as “alimony” or “spousal support”) are made, you might want to be aware of the fact that spousal maintenance payments generally remain modifiable unless you and your former spouse specifically stated that the award would be made non-modifiable. If you have paid spousal maintenance over an extended period, it will almost always terminate when the spouse receiving the benefits remarries. This is unless there is some other agreement entered at the time of the divorce with the court. One of the most common questions for both parties to a spousal maintenance arrangement is whether it can be terminated if the receiving party is living with another partner at some point in the future without actually getting married to that new partner. Read on to learn more about the complex issues at play with this kind of situation.
Remarriage and Living Together: What’s the Difference?
As a general matter, it is important to understand that spousal maintenance can be reduced or terminated based upon a substantial and continuing change of circumstances. If the receiving party is cohabiting with another individual, that party’s needs may be reduced by sharing expenses. This may lead the other party towards a potential modification of spousal maintenance.
The Challenge in Proving Cohabitation
Generally, just living together isn’t enough to trigger a modification. There should really be some evidence that the need for spousal maintenance is not as great (or has ended) because of the cohabitation. The person alleging that the spousal maintenance award should end bears the burden of proof in the scenario that alleged full-time cohabitation is sufficient grounds for reducing or ending payments.
Spousal maintenance can be terminated if the other party eventually gets married to the receiving spouse, but it can be very difficult for individuals making spousal maintenance payments to structure a case based on the fact that their former spouse is allegedly living with someone else. You should always consult with an Arizona family lawyer to have all of your questions answered regarding this and to determine whether there is enough information in play to consider terminating or reducing current spousal maintenance payments.
This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding family law issues, please feel free to contact our Family Law Section at 480.461.5300, log on to udallshumway.com, or contact an attorney in your area. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.