Does Cohabitation End Spousal Support?
After a divorce, some people want to begin a serious relationship faster than others. For those who choose to move on and cohabitate with partners they need to be aware that Illinois law does not allow them to continue receiving spousal support if it is determined that they are truly cohabitating. It is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the law surrounding this issue if your situation is moving in this direction.
Illinois Spousal Support Law
Under Illinois spousal support terminates upon both remarriage and cohabitation. Section 750 ILCS 5/510(c)(3) states maintenance payments will end if the spouse receiving support “cohabits with another person on a resident, continuing conjugal basis.” The common issue is what constitutes a ‘resident, continuing conjugal basis,' and this has been the basis of considerable litigation. The rationale for spousal support terminating upon cohabitation is that a former spouse should not be allowed to ‘double dip,' so to speak—to possibly receive spousal support as well as payments or help with bills from a new partner—while their former spouse is essentially forced to help support two households.
What Constitutes Cohabitation?
The crux of any argument regarding the cessation of support is how to define “resident, continuing conjugal basis.” There are many different factors that a judge will consider when deciding whether or not to qualify a relationship as cohabitation. Some include:
- The length of the relationship;
- How much time is spent together;
- What degree of presence the supported spouse has in the home—for example, does he or she keep a few clothes at the shared home, or all of his or her things?
- What type of activities the couple participates in—do they tend to keep to their own separate orbits, or do they engage in romantic activities and dates?
- The degree to which affairs are intertwined—do they have a joint checking account, or have they included the other in their estate planning?
Contact a Family Law Attorney
Cohabitation and its permutations can be difficult to understand from a legal point of view. If you need help or need questions answered, it is usually best to consult a lawyer. The dedicated Wheaton, Illinois family law attorneys at MKFM Law are happy to sit down with you and answer your questions about how to handle what can be a complex situation. Contact us today at 630-665-7300 to set up an appointment.