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Does cohabitation affect alimony?

Alimony can be a sore subject for many California residents. Alimony is the payment from one former spouse to the other following a divorce. These payments are meant to allow an ex-spouse to continue to receive financial support following a divorce. It's often awarded when one spouse has sacrificed a career to raise children or take care of the family home. However, it can be awarded in other situations as well.

For the receiving spouse, alimony allows the person to get back on their feet following a divorce. It may give them the money they need to keep a similar standard of living, or the money they need while they search for a job or get an education.

While alimony is often awarded for a specific amount of time, it can also be permanent. However, there are situations when alimony can be revoked by the court. They include death, remarriage and cohabitation.

Cohabitation is loosely defined and hard to prove. It can be costly for people to determine if their ex-spouse is really cohabitating with another significant other. Generally cohabitation includes a couple in a marriage-like relationship. This relationship must include sexual, social and financial interdependencies.

Some clues to determine if these factors are met can be found. Often those cohabitating will rotate or hide cars to try to make it appear as if they are not living together. However, they may share bank accounts, car titles or leases. Furthermore, children or other family members may be instructed to say that the couple are not living together.

Those who suspect cohabitation have legal rights. Evidence that the ex-spouse can be difficult to obtain. But with the right help people can lower or eliminate their alimony payments by showing that cohabitation is occurring.

Source: The Huffington Post, "How to Evaluate if Cohabitation Has Placed Alimony at Risk," Diane L. Danois, J.D., March 21, 2014

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