Is upkeep concerned if the ex strikes in with the neighbors?

Under my divorce settlement, I have to pay child support 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 what I think of his mother’s new partner and seemed seriously concerned that she was with a woman now. It never occurred to me that they were anything more than friends who decided to become roommates. He was so sure of himself that I now wonder. I think if she lives with a new partner, regardless of gender, I may be able to stop paying the alimony. It would be nice if you stopped paying that much child support.

How would that work if I did something here?

The Massachusetts Maintenance Act provides the ability to suspend, reduce, or terminate maintenance payments “if it can be demonstrated that the recipient is in a household with someone else.” So before you do anything, you need to determine whether your ex and the neighbor meet the definition of a “shared household”. If you want to change your maintenance, you must show a judge that your ex and the neighbor (a) have given others oral or written statements about their relationship, (b) there is an economic correlation between the two, (c) they are behaving themselves to promote 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 complaint requesting the reduction and / or termination of maintenance. Once you have delivered the complaint and subpoena to your ex, you can conduct the necessary investigation to prove the above factors. For example, ask for bank records and household bills to show who is paying what. Obtain copies of rental agreements or mortgage statements. If they have joint bank accounts or one pays bills on behalf of the other – that’s helpful for your cause. Then do you talk to people you know – do you hold out as a couple? Or just friends / roommates? If this option doesn’t suit you, there is another option.

Take your ex out 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 he sees it. Depending on your relationship, you can tell her why or not you are asking – I’m sure you are curious regardless of the maintenance implications. If she admits the relationship, ask her to agree to cut or cut maintenance during the relationship. If she denies the relationship, you know her well – how good is she a liar? Then, wonder if a judge will believe her if you think she is lying to you?

Email questions to whickey@brickjones.com.

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