How Does Cohabitation Affect Spousal Support in California?

One of the main issues that must be negotiated in almost any divorce is the payment of spousal support from the higher earning spouse to the lesser earning spouse during and after divorce proceedings. The purpose of spousal support is to help the lesser earning spouse maintain his or her standard of living and eventually transition into becoming financially independent, but what happens when the spouse receiving support begins cohabitating with another person? At Kearney Baker, our team of dedicated legal professionals is here to help answer this and any other questions that you may have about your divorce. To learn more about spousal support in California, call or contact our office today.

What is Cohabitation?

There is no strict definition of cohabitation under California law, but the term is broadly defined as a non-married couple living together in an intimate relationship. Simply living with a roommate does not qualify as cohabitating, but a person petitioning the court about a former spouse cohabitating also does not need to prove that the couple has had sex. In order to qualify as cohabitating, the couple must have an intimate relationship and have some level of financial interdependence. These elements can be shown in a number of ways:

  • Sharing a home address
  • Holding themselves out to others as married
  • Paying for the other’s or relatives’ expenses
  • Purchasing real estate together
  • Investing in real or personal property together

If a spouse receiving alimony from a divorce settlement begins cohabitating with another person, it can have significant impacts on those payments. You should always talk to an experienced attorney if the issue of cohabitation could impact your payment, or receipt, of spousal support payments.

How Cohabitation Affects Spousal Support in California

In California, there is a rebuttable presumption that spousal support can be reduced or terminated if the spouse receiving support is shown to be cohabitating with another person. The spouse paying support must be able to prove to the court that their former spouse meets the criteria for cohabitation, and upon that showing the spouse receiving support has the opportunity to prove a continued need for support even though he or she has started cohabitating with someone else. 

When determining whether to decrease or terminate spousal support due to cohabitation, it is important to note that the judge will not take into consideration the income of the cohabitating partner, only the financial circumstances of the spouse receiving support. However, if the financial assistance provided by the cohabitating partner significantly reduces the expenses and financial burden on the spouse receiving alimony, it may qualify for the reduction or termination in spousal support payments.

Talk to Our Office Now

Cohabitation can have a substantial impact on the payment and receiving of spousal support in California. If you are paying or receiving alimony and would like to learn more about how cohabitating could impact your spousal support order, call the office or contact us in Pasadena at Kearney Baker today to schedule a consultation of your case.