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Can your ex-spouse keep you obligated to pay alimony?

When you are the primary income earner in your marital home in California, you likely realize that your divorce may place your now ex-spouse in a financially disadvantaged position. Thus, upon the formal dissolution of your marriage, you may initially have no issue paying spousal support until they secure gainful employment or the ability to support themselves.

What you do not want, however, is for them to take advantage of you. Yet should they choose to avoid remarrying (even after entering into a relationship with a new romantic partner) in order to remain eligible to receive alimony, that may be their intention. The question then becomes whether the law allows that.

The legal perspective regarding alimony and cohabitation

According to Section 4323 of the California Family Code, it does not. Indeed, this statute states that authorities assume once your ex-spouse begins cohabitating with a new partner, their need for alimony is no longer what it was at the conclusion of your divorce proceedings. Therefore, the court may use this fact as a reason to modify your alimony obligation (or simply terminate it altogether).

Cohabitation vs.  a supportive relationship

Your ex-spouse may challenge this assumption, however. The law goes on to state that the mere fact that they and their new partner live together (and even present themselves to others as a married couple) does not necessarily meet the standard of cohabitation in terms of defining it as a supportive relationship. Furthermore, court authorities do not consider the income of your ex-spouse’s new partner when determining the continuing need for alimony.

This may seem to deal a blow to your efforts to modify your alimony obligation. Yet your ex-spouse’s partner’s income may come under consideration if you show that the pair intermingles their finances. This might serve as proof that the two indeed view their relationship as supportive.

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