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How Do Remarriage or Cohabitation Impact Alimony in Connecticut?

How do cohabitation or remarriage impact alimony awarded in a Connecticut divorceWhen 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.

To learn more about how alimony works in Connecticut divorces, click here.

To learn more about how remarriage or cohabitation affects alimony in Connecticut, read on!

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 need to 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 he or she 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 it be made a court order.  If they do not agree, the paying spouse files 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 his or her 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 he or she began living with another person, the court may choose to reduce or eliminate alimony.  The court will look at the new live-in partner’s contribution to household expenses.  As discussed further below, cohabitation is more factually complicated to prove than remarriage.

Just 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.”

It reads:

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 successfully 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 his or her financial needs.

Next Steps

If you are deciding whether to seek to reduce or eliminate your obligation to pay alimony, it’s important to have an experienced divorced legal team review it and determine what specific orders exist. Modification of alimony based on cohabitation, in particular, is rarely straightforward and is highly fact-specific.  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.  Then, we take those goals along with the facts of your case and analyze them in light of your existing order so that we can present you with recommendations and options on how to move forward.

Similarly, if your former spouse is trying to modify or terminate alimony payments to you, you want to have an attorney review your existing court order.  After we have reviewed the order and learned your goals, we can design a plan to defend against the modification.

Schedule your Goals & Planning Conference today, or contact us either here or by phone at 860-560-8160.

 

Written by Meghan Freed