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Can I Stop Paying Alimony if My Ex Starts Living with Someone Else?

 Posted on June 26, 2020 in Uncategorized

Will County divorce attorney spousal maintenance

When it comes to paying spousal support or maintenance (alimony), a common question is, “What happens if my ex remarries or starts living with someone else?” Do you still have to pay alimony in this situation? Under Illinois law, the remarriage of a former spouse receiving alimony automatically terminates the paying spouse’s obligations, unless the divorce settlement or judgment specifies otherwise. Even if the receiving spouse does not formally remarry, but instead starts “cohabitating” with another person, the paying spouse can still seek a court order terminating spousal maintenance. But keep in mind, unlike with remarriage, cohabitation does not automatically end alimony obligations.

Appellate Court Finds “Friends with Benefits” Relationship Not Enough to End Alimony

Indeed, just because you believe your ex is now involved in a “de facto” marriage with someone else, that may not be enough to convince a judge. Take this recent decision from the Illinois Fourth District Appellate Court, In re Marriage of Blue. This case involves a couple that divorced in 2015. A marital settlement agreement between the parties required the former husband to pay the former wife $1,200 per month in alimony. The agreement followed Illinois law and specified that spousal maintenance would terminate if the former wife “cohabited with another person on a resident, continuing, or conjugal basis.”

About three years later, in December 2018, the former husband filed a petition in circuit court seeking to terminate spousal support. He alleged the former wife was now “cohabitating with an adult man” as defined by the agreement. The former wife disputed this.

The former husband presented testimony from a private investigator he hired. The investigator said he observed the other man at the former wife’s residence on a number of occasions. The other man also testified. He said he lived in Florida full-time and only saw the former wife “infrequently.” He insisted they were not dating and never lived together. The former wife also described her relationship with the other man as “friends with benefits,” and that she was in fact not dating anyone.

Based on all of this testimony, the circuit court concluded there were “insufficient facts” to prove the former wife was cohabitating with the other man. The court, therefore, denied the former husband’s petition to terminate alimony. The former husband appealed, but the Fourth District affirmed the circuit court’s ruling.

The appellate court noted that there are a number of factors a judge must examine when deciding whether cohabitation or “de facto marriage” exists for purposes of terminating spousal maintenance. These factors include the length of the relationship, how much time the parties spend together, and the “interrelation of their personal affairs.” No single factor controls, the court noted, and again, the judge’s role is to look at the “totality of the circumstances.”

Contact a DuPage County Divorce Lawyer 

Spousal maintenance is often one of the most contentious issues in a divorce. Whether you are the one paying alimony or the one receiving it, you may have many questions about your rights after the marriage formally ends. If you need legal advice or representation from an experienced Naperville spousal support attorney, contact the Law Office of Ronald L. Hendrix, P.C., today at 630-355-7776 to schedule a free consultation.


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