A New Romantic Partner Could Affect Your Spousal Support
If you are recently divorced or are in the process of ending a marriage that has been effectively dead for years, it is completely normal to experience feelings of loneliness and a need for companionship. A new relationship is exciting and, for someone coming out of a bad marriage, finding a new partner can be extremely cathartic. If, however, your spouse is paying you alimony—formally known as “maintenance” in Illinois law—or you are asking for maintenance in your divorce, you need to understand how a new partner could potentially affect your payments.
The Need for Spousal Support
According to the law in Illinois, maintenance is never presumed to be necessary in a divorce. Instead, it may be awarded by the court if the court determines that such payments are necessary and appropriate for the given situation. The general idea is to help a financially-disadvantaged spouse regain his or independence, if possible. In cases where independence is not possible due to age, health, or other factors, maintenance may be awarded to help a spouse maintain a reasonable standard of living.
When the Recipient Remarries
While most orders for maintenance are intended to last for a fixed amount of time, based on the duration of the marriage, an order will also be terminated if the recipient party gets remarried. This is understandable, considering that a remarriage creates a new household situation for that spouse—one to which the original paying spouse should not be required to support financially.
For the same reason, maintenance obligations will also be terminated if the recipient spouse moves in “with another person on a resident, continuing conjugal basis.” So, what does that mean? It means that a traditional roommate situation will not end the maintenance payments nor will a sexual relationship with a new partner in which the parties spend the occasional night together. In fact, case law in Illinois has established that a sexual relationship is not even necessary to meet the criteria set in the statute.
Essentially, Illinois courts have determined that maintenance obligations are terminated if the recipient spouse enters into a “de facto husband and wife relationship” with a new partner. To determine if such a relationship exists, the court will examine how the new couple lives their lives. If they share combined living expenses, vacation together, use shared bank accounts, and generally act as a married couple, the court will likely end the paying party’s obligation.
The intent of the law is not to restrict you from moving on from your divorce, but it is not reasonable to ask your ex to provide financially for you when you have moved in with someone else. If you have additional questions about how a new romantic partner could affect your post-divorce life, contact an experienced DuPage County family law attorney. Call 630-665-7300 for a confidential consultation at MKFM Law today.