Divorce is oftentimes an expensive endeavor. Some individuals are able to ease the burden associated with marriage dissolution by successfully seeking alimony, while others may see their financial stability eroded by orders requiring them to pay spousal support.
If you’re in the latter category and are worried about the burden placed on you by an alimony order, then you may be wondering what you can do to protect your interests moving forward. It’s a legitimate question, especially considering the fact that many alimony orders last for half the length of the marriage or, in the case of couples that were married for 20 years or more, the order can last indefinitely.
Alimony, fairness, and cohabitation
Yet, the purpose underlying alimony is fairness. Your former spouse may need financial support in the form of alimony to ensure that he or she has the resources necessary to enjoy a certain standard of living while he or she tries to obtain training, education, and/or employment.
But using alimony as a tool for fairness can come to an abrupt stop when your former spouse gets remarried or begins cohabitating with another individual. That’s why the law specifies that alimony payments should cease when any of these activities occur.
While proving marriage is easy enough, proving cohabitation is a different story. In fact, many individuals who receive alimony payments try to keep it a secret that they’re cohabiting with another individual to continue receiving payments in violation of the law.
So, if you suspect that your former spouse may be cohabitating with another individual, you may want to consider taking the following action to learn more and to build a case for alimony cessation:
- Hire an investigator: This may sound far-fetched, but it’s oftentimes necessary to conduct some sort of surveillance on your former spouse to determine where he or she is living. If you can gather evidence, both personal observations and photographs, that indicate that your former spouse is spending the night with someone on a regular basis, then you’ll be better positioned to prove cohabitation. Keep in mind that you don’t have to prove sexual relations are occurring or that there’s a financial benefit to the cohabitation arrangement. You just have to show that your former spouse is regularly residing with the other individual and that they’re holding themselves out as a couple.
- Be sure you know the other individual’s identity: If you can show that your former spouse is staying with someone else on a regular basis, you need to make sure that you can prove your former spouse’s relationship with that individual. You may get further than you think here by simply asking your former spouse about it or by talking to neighbors and friends.
- Sharing parenting responsibilities: If your children spend time with your ex-spouse, then they may be able to give you some indication if they’re spending a lot of time at another residence, and whether the new person in your former spouse’s life is sharing parenting duties. If so, then you have a stronger argument for cohabitation. Just keep in mind that you want to try to keep your children out of these matters as much as possible.
- Check social media: This may seem obvious nowadays, but your former spouse’s social media page, as well as the social media pages of the new person in his or her life, can be very telling of their living arrangement. Be diligent here and grab screenshots that may be helpful to your case.
Be thorough in protecting your interests
There’s a lot on the line in an alimony dispute. That’s why you need to be thorough and make sure that you have the evidence that you need to support your position. That means that you’ll need to put in the work necessary to gather evidence and build persuasive legal arguments. If you think that you could benefit from assistance in that regard, then consider discussing the specifics of your case with an experienced family law attorney.