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Cohabitation may modify spousal support

On behalf of Law Office of Nancy L. Sponseller posted on Monday, March 3, 2014.

Some Ohio residents may be interested in the effect cohabitation has on spousal support. Alimony, orspousal support, is offered by one spouse to another, often as part of a divorce settlement, to sustain them and support them for a designated period of time or until they remarry. If the spouse cohabitates with someone else but does not marry, the rules are different, however.

While the supported spouse may be living as though they were married, an order to terminate or modify spousal support is dependent on proof that the couple is cohabiting, and the burden of proof goes to the spouse who is paying support. The process involved in obtaining this proof could be difficult and costly.

Cohabitants, in this sense, share both financial and social responsibilities, and due to the new circumstances, the former spouse may not require as much support. If financial obligations such as rent, food expenses or car payments are shared, this would suggest cohabitation exists. Social interaction that presents the couple as living in a marriage-like relationship is another aspect of cohabitation. However, proof is hard to come by, and hiring a private investigator may be necessary.

If hiring an expert is financially daunting, there are several things that may be done to prove a couple is engaging in a live-in relationship. Photos of a cohabitant leaving in the morning and arriving at night or postings on social media pages may offer proof. Obtaining cellphone data that shows a person’s location 24/7 is invaluable and could be used to prove cohabitation.

States vary in their laws concerning the modification of an alimony agreement. Generally, modification rests on a change in circumstances. In Ohio, modification may be made if the parties agreed to a stipulation in their divorce decree that allows the court to entertain issues that could change it. An attorney maybe able to assist by evaluating the original decree and providing advice.

Source: Ohio Laws and Rules, “Awarding Spousal Support – Modification of Spousal Support,” 2013

Source: The Huffington Post, “He Said/She Said: How to Demonstrate Cohabitation in an Alimony Dispute“, Diane L. Danois, J.D. , February 21, 2014