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Cohabitation and Alimony

Many people have questions about alimony in a divorce case. If two parties in a divorce end up in very different financial circumstances, the court can order the wealthier party to provide financial assistance to the other. This financial assistance is called alimony.

What if the two parties aren't married, but are living together as a couple? In the state of Georgia, if a couple is living and sleeping together, they are considered cohabitating. This means that while the couple may consider themselves "married" and are living as such, the court does not and they will not enjoy the full range of legal protections and benefits that a legally married couple would.

Since cohabitation raises some questions about what would happen if the couple split, let's take a closer look at the specific question of whether one member of the couple would end up having to make payments to the other in case of a split.

Alimony in Georgia

In many marriages, one spouse is primarily the bread-winner of the family, while the other spouse is responsible for taking care of the children and running the household. It's not uncommon for the person who is working to need to provide financially for the other spouse after a divorce.

There are different kinds of alimony. It could be a transfer of property. It can also take the form of a lump-sum, one-time payment or a series of regular payments.

The court is going to take multiple factors into account when deciding whether alimony should be granted and in what amount. These factors include:

  • how long the marriage lasted
  • the standard of living each spouse is accustomed to
  • age, financial stability, and the health of each spouse
  • the length of time it will take the supported spouse to get retrained and find employment
  • the overall contributions made to the marriage by each spouse
  • other factors the court may deem important

Cohabitation And Alimony

The problem with cohabitating with someone is that you are not legally married. Think of marriage as a contract. When the parties want to dissolve that contract, they still have financial and legal obligations to each other that must be settled in an equitable fashion.

Cohabitators don't have that contract. They are living together and existing as a married couple emotionally and socially, but not legally. Thus, when a split occurs, either party is able to walk away with little to no obligation

In the real world, however, couples become very entangled while cohabitating. Perhaps there are children involved. Or, the finances are a joint effort. Either way, it's important to realize that, barring a written, notarized agreement in place before the cohabitation happened, neither party has any claim to alimony in a cohabitation situation.

This is different if there are children involved and the parties are the parents. In that case, there can (and should) be a request to the court for child support payments as well as the establishment of a set visitation schedule and custody agreement.

Talk to an Attorney

If you live in Henry, Clayton, or Fayette counties, and are entangled in a tough cohabitation living arrangement, you need to talk to Family Matters Law Group to figure out what your options are and what the best course of action is for your situation.

You can set up an initial consultation by calling or contacting us online. We look forward to hearing your story and fighting hard for your best interests.

 

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