Divorced couple signing legal documents with lawyer

Does Cohabitation Impact Spousal Support in a California Divorce?

When you are married to someone you often make many sacrifices for the betterment of your relationship. Sometimes this places one spouse at a disadvantage when the marriage doesn’t work out. To help remedy this inequity, California allows for the spouse who earns more money to pay money to the other and can go on for months, years, or even indefinitely. This is known as “spousal support.” 

Factors for awarding spousal support include:

  • The standard of living during the course of the marriage
  • How much each spouse earns
  • The length of the marriage
  • The age and health of both spouses

But what happens if the person receiving the spousal support begins cohabitating with someone else? Under California law, it is presumed that the amount of spousal support can, in fact, be decreased when the supported party begins to cohabitate with another person. 

What Constitutes Cohabitation?

Someone is considered to be cohabitating with someone else when they live with someone whom they are not married to, but share an intimate, personal relationship with them. In order to modify or terminate spousal support, the couple who is cohabitating must be financially intertwined. 

Evidence of cohabitation includes:

  • Sharing a mailing address
  • Investing in real estate together
  • Renovating a property together
  • Purchasing other property jointly
  • Helping to support the other financially

The income of the partner with whom the support recipient cohabitates is not considered. However, it can come into play when considering the share of expenses that the partner pays versus what the support recipient pays. This is because if the support recipient is paying less, they don’t need as much spousal support in order to maintain the same standard of living. 

Also important to note is that spousal support does come to an end when the support recipient remarries. 

What Happens if You Can Prove Cohabitation?

Proving cohabitation does not by itself guarantee that your spousal support will change. The court will take all factors of each case into consideration, but it is the job of the spouse receiving the support to rebut the presumption that there is a reduced need for the support. Often the longer the marriage, the more difficult it can be to modify the support. 

Common Arguments for Maintaining the Same Support

In order to rebut the presumption that the spousal support should be modified or terminated; the recipient commonly makes one of the following arguments:

  1. It is only a roommate relationship 
  2. Their need for the support is not reduced by the cohabitating relationship
  3. They were already cohabiting with this person during the time that the most recent order was granted

The Law Office of Ronald L. Freeman Helps Those in California Who Are In the Process of Going through a Divorce 

Spousal support can often be difficult to modify or terminate. That’s where a knowledgeable and experienced California family law attorney can come in handy. By consulting with a qualified family law attorney, he or she can help you to fight for what you want concerning spousal support. 

At the Law Office of Ronald L. Freeman, our San Bernardino and Riverside family law attorneys will work to help you obtain what you are looking for. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!