Cohabitation Alimony Reform Bill

Back when I was a paralegal in about 1998, I worked long and hard on a case where our client’s ex-spouse receiving maintenance had been co-habiting with her new significant other for years. The two of them even owned a business together and operated all their finances together. We were attempting to find grounds to reduce her monthly maintenance, but it was a long road digging through her monthly expenses trying to determine whether her need had decreased since the divorce.

You would think the fact that she and her significant other were residing together and had entangled their finances just like a married couple would be easy grounds to reduce her maintenance, but in those days, it wasn’t. Along comes the Cohabitation Alimony Reform Bill, to change that. Effective August 1, 2016, the bill provides factors for modifying spousal maintenance when the obligee is cohabiting with another adult. Factors include:

1. Whether the obligee would marry the cohabitant but for the maintenance award;
2. The economic benefit the obligee derives from the cohabitation;
3. The length of the cohabitation and the likely future duration of the cohabitation; and
4. The economic impact on the obligee if maintenance is modified and the cohabitation ends.

It certainly isn’t a panacea because the factors must be considered together and each situation is different, but it would have provided our client those many years ago a simpler and more straightforward grounds to file a modification motion. If you are paying spousal maintenance, and your ex-spouse is residing with a significant other, it may be time to considering a modification motion.