How Does Remarriage or Cohabitation Impact Alimony in Connecticut?
When spouses divorce in Connecticut, the court may order one spouse to pay alimony to the other spouse. But what happens in the case of the alimony recipient’s remarriage or cohabitation with a new partner? In either situation, the spouse paying alimony may want to end or decrease alimony payments.
Read on to learn more about how remarriage or cohabitation affects alimony in Connecticut!
Impact of Remarriage on Alimony in Connecticut
In many states, alimony automatically ends when the alimony recipient remarries. Not so in Connecticut.
If divorcing spouses want alimony to end automatically when the supported spouse remarries, they must specify that in their divorce agreement. If the divorce court determines that the divorce agreement is fair and equitable, it will make that agreement a court order.
Unless the court’s order in the divorce dictates that alimony automatically terminates upon remarriage, the payor spouse needs a court order terminating alimony before they can stop making payments. If the former spouses agree to end alimony (it happens!), they can file a signed agreement with the court and ask that the judge make it a court order.
Former spouses also agree to change alimony — often through mediation or collaborative law. If so, it often needs to be filed with and ordered by the court for the changes to be enforceable. If the ex-spouses don’t reach an agreement, the paying spouse can initiate litigation by filing a motion asking the court to end or reduce alimony.
Impact of Cohabitation on Alimony in Connecticut
If an alimony recipient’s financial needs are lower due to cohabitation with another person, the alimony payor can file a motion to modify (reduce) or terminate alimony. If the court finds that the supported spouse’s financial needs, in fact, decreased because they began living with another person, the court may choose to reduce or eliminate alimony. The court will examine the new live-in partner’s contribution to household expenses. As discussed further below, it’s more factually complicated to prove cohabitation than remarriage.
As with remarriage above, if a divorcing couple wants alimony to automatically end when the supported spouse begins cohabiting with another person, they can say so specifically in their divorce agreement.
Connecticut Cohabitation Statute
In Connecticut, we have Connecticut General Statutes Section 46b-86(b), which divorce lawyers refer to as the “cohabitation statute,” even though it does not use the word “cohabitation.”
In an action for divorce, dissolution of marriage, legal separation or annulment brought by a spouse, in which a final judgment has been entered providing for the payment of periodic alimony by one party to the other spouse, the Superior Court may, in its discretion and upon notice and hearing, modify such judgment and suspend, reduce or terminate the payment of periodic alimony upon a showing that the party receiving the periodic alimony is living with another person under circumstances which the court finds should result in the modification, suspension, reduction or termination of alimony because the living arrangements cause such a change of circumstances as to alter the financial needs of that party. In the event that a final judgment incorporates a provision of an agreement in which the parties agree to circumstances, other than as provided in this subsection, under which alimony will be modified, including suspension, reduction, or termination of alimony, the court shall enforce the provision of such agreement and enter orders in accordance therewith.
Legal Standard for Modification of Alimony Based on Cohabitation
To prevail on a Motion for Modification based upon cohabitation, the alimony payor must prove that 1) the former spouse is living with another person, and 2) that living with another person alters the former spouse’s financial needs. You’ll want to discuss with an experienced family law attorney what courts view as meeting the definition of “living together.” Even when it is clear that an alimony recipient is living with someone else, under Connecticut law, the “living together with another person” must cause a change in the recipient spouse’s circumstances by altering their financial needs.
The Comprehensive Connecticut Alimony Guide
Alimony is one of the most critical issues in family law. And, it’s one of the most confusing. There are no set formulas or rules on (1) whether there will be alimony, and, if so, (2) how it’s calculated, or (3) how long it will last. The good news is that this means there is tremendous flexibility to craft an individualized approach. To prepare to make solid and informed decisions, you need to understand how alimony works. Our Comprehensive Connecticut Alimony Guide tells you everything you need to know about alimony in Connecticut.
To start planning for your divorce or post-judgment modification, reach out. Our first step at Freed Marcroft, the Goals & Planning Conference, is designed to get to the heart of your problem and unveil your true goals. We analyze those goals, plus the facts of your case, and present you with recommendations and options to move forward.