It's a given that alimony usually ends when the receiving spouse remarries. Many people have questions about a spouse that doesn't remarry but ends up living with another man. What are the alimony requirements if your ex has decided to cohabitate?
In Georgia, cohabitation is defined by statute as "dwelling together continuously and openly in a meretricious relationship with another person, regardless of the sex of the other person", meretricious meaning intimate. As it turns out, in Georgia, other than remarriage, there are two other circumstances in which alimony may be reduced or stopped. Cohabitation is one of those circumstances.
After a divorce, each spouse must find new living accommodations. This is expected and natural. However, if a spouse decides to voluntarily move in with a new partner, this has an effect on what may happen in court.
As mentioned above, the key legal term is "meretricious relationship". By definition, in Georgia, if a couple is merely living together, they are just roommates and there is no legal relationship between the two.
However, if the couple is living together while being intimate, this is a meretricious relationship and under Georgia law, they are cohabitating. They don't have to be married -- just living together and being intimate.
Also, note that the gender of the partner is not important. Whether your ex decides to cohabitate with another male or a female, Georgia law treats it the same.
Unlike remarriage, where alimony is typically ended automatically, in a cohabitation situation, the law provides for modification of existing alimony payments. It is the responsibility of the spouse making payments to ask the court to modify those payments if their ex is cohabitating with a new partner.
There are requirements for proof. In order to receive relief on your alimony payments, you must prove one of two things. First, you can show proof that the spouse receiving alimony payments is sharing living expenses with their new lover. The other option is to prove that the former spouse is engaged in a sexual relationship with the person they are living with.
These requirements make it essential for you to document everything thoroughly. You will not be able to walk into court, hurl allegations, and expect the court to take you at face value with a reduction or modification of your alimony. You must be able to provide proof of cohabitation, so it's vital to make sure that every conversation is documented and any proof you have is shared with your attorney.
Also, under Georgia law, if you and your spouse decide to rekindle the romance and live together without being remarried (i.e. you are cohabitating with your ex), it does not entitle you to a change in alimony. Only if you remarry does Georgia allow for a change in alimony payments.
One other thing to notice in the statute is the use of the term "continuously". If your ex only has periodic contact with her new lover, it does not meet the criteria for cohabitation and you are not eligible for any change in alimony.
It's understandable that you would be upset to find out your ex is living with another man while you are paying alimony. Unfortunately, it doesn't mean you can automatically expect to adjust your payments.
The best course of action in this situation is to talk to an experienced attorney. Family Matters Law Group is dedicated to fighting for fathers across the Atlanta metro area. If you know your spouse is cohabitating, contact our office and let's discuss your options.
Setting up a consultation is simple -- call or use our online contact form. We're ready to listen to your story and fight hard for your family, your money, and your assets.