When a spouse receiving spousal maintenance remarries, the support obligation ends. But, what happens if an ex-spouse lives with someone outside of marriage? In Wisconsin, cohabitation may be grounds for a modification or cessation of spousal maintenance, but cohabitation alone is not enough to modify or terminate maintenance. A court will consider various factors to reach a determination.
With the help of an experienced attorney, someone paying spousal maintenance to an ex-spouse may file a motion to modify or terminate spousal maintenance showing that an ex-spouse and a new partner are not only living together, but are “acting like a married couple” engaged in a long term relationship, sharing expenses and joint assets, accounts and debt. It may even be that an ex-spouse is entirely supported by their new partner.
Lining up the necessary facts and evidence sometimes is easier said than done – enlisting the help of an experienced attorney is often necessary. To begin with, proving that an ex-spouse and a new partner are living together can be challenging. Showing that an ex-spouse and a partner receive mail at the same address or have government issued IDs with the same address is a good place to start to establish cohabitation.
The next step is to convince the court that spousal maintenance should be modified. A court may consider the economic benefit the ex-spouse derives from cohabitation; the length of cohabitation; and the economic impact on the ex-spouse if maintenance is modified, especially if cohabitation ends. Uncovering pertinent facts may require discovery, a legal process to obtain additional information.
Depending on the unique circumstance of your case, cohabitation can be a basis for modifying or terminating spousal maintenance, but it is not set in stone. It is advisable to work with a knowledgeable and skilled attorney if you are a payor of support seeking a modification of spousal maintenance or a recipient seeking to protect against changes to an existing order for alimony. Contact Probst Law Office S.C. for immediate assistance today.