Cohabitation May End Need for Alimony Payments

Georgia residents may have a general idea of what alimony is. Alimony is applied when there is a large discrepancy in the incomes of divorcing spouses, but the receiving party should not abuse its application.

When a permanent alimony obligation has been imposed, the payor spouse is required to pay unless a specific event occurs. Such an event may include a court order, the death of one of the parties, the remarriage of the receiving spouse or, possibly, cohabitation. Cohabitation is when a couple lives together in a marriage like situation with financial and social interdependencies. The payor spouse may feel that such a relationship negates the need for the payee spouse to continue to receive alimony payments as they are being financially assisted by their partner. The payee spouse will likely deny that such a relationship requires the end of alimony payments and could prove so with bank statements and other documentation.

Alimony, or spousal support, is the payment from the assets of a higher wage-earning spouse to the other spouse to minimize any negative financial effects that may result from a divorce. Courts take into account many factors when deciding whether alimony should be awarded, including the length of the marriage, the assets of each party and the standard of living during the marriage. If a court determines that alimony is necessary, it may grant either temporary or permanent alimony.

Rehabilitative alimony is paid until the receiving spouse is able to achieve any necessary education to allow them to obtain adequate employment to increase their income. Permanent alimony, on the other hand, is to be paid until a court order deems otherwise. Such an order may be granted when one of the spouses dies or if the receiving spouse remarries. The article detailed above highlights the possibility that cohabitation by the receiving spouse may necessitate a court to end alimony payments as well.

Alimony is meant to allow a lower wage earning spouse to not be unduly financially impacted by a divorce. It is important that if the receiving spouse is being financially supported in another way, that the paying spouse seeks a modification or change by the court to address the continued payment of alimony. A divorcing spouse may seek the assistance of a family law attorney to help them with the alimony process.

Source: Huffington Post, "How to Evaluate if Cohabitation Has Placed Alimony at Risk," Diane L. Danois J.D., Mar. 21, 2014

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