Does alimony play a role if the ex moves in with the neighbor?

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My divorce settlement requires me to pay alimony to my ex-wife until my normal retirement age, which is 10 years away. I recently noticed that my ex moved in with our neighbor who lost her husband a few years ago. My son asked me how I felt about his mother’s new partner and seemed genuinely concerned that she is now dating a woman. It never occurred to me that they were more than friends who decided to become roommates. He was so sure that now I wonder. I think if she lives with a new partner, regardless of gender, maybe I can stop paying alimony. It would be nice to stop paying so much alimony.

How would that work if I did something here?

The Massachusetts alimony law provides for the ability to suspend, reduce, or terminate alimony “if the recipient is shown to share a household with another person.” So before you do anything, you need to determine if your ex and the neighbor meet the definition of a “shared household.” If you want to change your alimony, you would need to show a judge that your ex and the neighbor (a) have made oral or written statements to others about their relationship, (b) there is an economic relationship between the two, (c) they behave to further their life together, (d) there is an advantage to one or both of them in their relationship, (e) the community recognizes them as a couple, or (f) any other relevant information.

One way to do this is to file an amendment requesting a reduction and/or termination of child support. Once you have served the complaint and subpoena on your ex, you can conduct the investigation needed to prove the above factors. For example, ask for bank records and household bills to show who is paying for what. Request copies of rental agreements or mortgage statements. If they have joint bank accounts or if they pay bills on each other’s behalf, that will help your cause. Then talk to people you know – do they get along as a couple? Or just friends/roommates? If this option does not suit you, there is another option.

Invite your ex over for coffee or lunch. Be open about what your son has told you and ask him if he has a relationship with the neighbor and where she sees it. Depending on your relationship, you can tell her why you’re asking or not – I’m sure you’re curious, regardless of the implications for child support. If she admits the relationship, ask her to agree to reducing or eliminating child support while she’s in the relationship. If she’s in denial about the relationship, you know her well – how good is she at a liar? Then consider if you think she’s lying to you, will a judge believe her?

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