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When Cohabitation Can End Spousal Maintenance

Posted on in Alimony / Maintenance

When Cohabitation Can End Spousal MaintenanceSpousal maintenance payments in a divorce agreement often have a set duration, based on how long the spouses were married. In Illinois, the maintenance payor can petition to terminate the payments before the end date if the recipient has remarried or is living with someone else in a de facto marriage. Determining whether someone has remarried is straightforward, but the two sides may disagree about whether the recipient’s cohabitation is fulfilling the same role as a marriage.

Weighing the Evidence

Cohabitation becomes a de facto marriage when a spousal maintenance recipient is in an intimate relationship that includes financial support or codependency. Illinois law refers to it as living with someone on a resident, continuing conjugal basis. Illinois courts use six factors to determine whether cohabitation reaches this status:

  • The length of the relationship;
  • How often the cohabitants are together;
  • What type of activities the cohabitants do together;
  • How connected their financial affairs are;
  • Whether they vacation together; and
  • Whether they celebrate holidays together.

Recent Case

In the case of In re Marriage of Walther, an Illinois appellate court granted a man’s request to terminate spousal maintenance payments because his former wife’s cohabitation with another man qualified as a de facto marriage. The woman began seeing her new romantic partner while she was separated from her husband and moved into an apartment near him during her divorce. After the divorce, the woman slept at the man’s house on a regular basis for about a year. Her daughter moved into the man’s house about halfway through that period. The woman and her daughter eventually relocated to a new apartment after the man’s sister kicked them out of the residence. The appellate court cited several factors that pointed to this relationship being a de facto marriage:

  • The woman had unfettered access to the man’s home and regularly performed household tasks;
  • The woman was allowed to cash checks for the man’s business;
  • The man and woman were in a monogamous sexual relationship that included taking trips and celebrating holidays together;
  • The woman’s daughter shared a bedroom with the man’s daughter; and
  • The woman called the man and his daughter her family in a Facebook post.

Contact a Kane County Divorce Lawyer

As a maintenance payor, you should not be supporting a former spouse who has found another provider or subsidizing a former spouse’s new relationship. Proving that your former spouse is in a de facto marriage will take research. A St. Charles divorce attorney at Goostree Law Group can prepare your arguments for why your spousal maintenance payments should be lowered or terminated. Schedule a free consultation by calling 630-584-4800.


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