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How cohabitation might affect alimony payments

When a marriage is dissolved in Texas, spouses might seek payments for financial support that continue on even after the divorce is finalized, or, more specifically, monthly payments that will help them maintain their lifestyle post-divorce. Alimony is often sought by an ex-spouse who seeks such financial support, typically because they have relied heavily on the income of their ex-spouse. Depending on the length of the marriage and the current situation, spousal support could last temporarily or even a lifetime. Those who receive alimony also should be aware that substantial changes in circumstances could mean lower payments or alimony payments ending altogether.

When alimony is awarded in a divorce proceeding, the recipient ex-spouse does not often think about what actions or situations could jeopardize their payments. Most are aware that the death of either party or the recipient ex-spouse's remarriage will stop spousal support payments, but many question whether cohabitation will affect spousal support.

A couple living together in a marriage-like situation could force a re-evaluation of alimony payments and could lead to various disputes between the divorced couple. Alimony might require alteration or modification if the recipient party is in a relationship and is receiving financial support in that new relationship. Although the couple is not married, the cohabitation situation could question the need for spousal support to continue.

Although cohabitation might not warrant the termination of alimony, it could mean lowered monthly payments, if the ex-spouse no longer requires the same sum of money to get by every month. Alimony might be based on the ex-spouse's income, education and what role they took on during the marriage. If these factors are no longer at issue, then payments might be reduced.

When a divorced payor of alimony believes that an ex is in a relationship that has reached the point of cohabitation, he or she should seek to understand their options. Before making a claim or litigating the issue, divorced couples should see if they can address the issue of alimony and reach an agreement on their own or with a mediator. Seeking guidance about possible courses of action will ensure that they take the proper steps in the situation.

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

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