My ex-spouse is cohabiting…can I cease paying youngster assist now? | Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel LLP

Many divorced customers ask if they can stop paying alimony if they suspect their ex-spouse is living together. The answer is simple: It depends.

Under Pennsylvania law, court-ordered alimony ends when the person receiving the alimony is cohabiting. However, if alimony is paid under a prenuptial agreement, the terms may differ. In this case, you should first check your contract to see whether the cohabitation in your specific case represents a ban on maintenance.

Proof of cohabitation in Pennsylvania requires proof of financial, social, and sexual interdependence. Cohabitation occurs when two people live together in a romantic relationship that resembles marriage. However, this means that more than two people will spend time together or even stay overnight. In addition to a love relationship, living together requires proof of financial ties such as the mixing of finances or assets, which is often difficult to prove. So if you think your ex-spouse is living together in a way that could end your child support obligation, how do you prove it? Some starting points are as follows:

  1. Check social media. You can often find pictures of your former spouse and their new partner that could be helpful in proving your case. You should also look at how their “relationship status” is listed on these platforms.
  2. Talk to neighbors or mutual friends. These people may have first-hand knowledge of the couple’s circumstances and could be potential witnesses if there is a hearing to end spousal maintenance.
  3. Consider hiring a private investigator. An experienced private investigator can gather evidence of how often the new partner is at your ex-spouse’s residence. For example, does he come into the apartment at night and leave in the morning dressed differently? Does the car move from its arrival at night to its departure in the morning? How often does he sleep over? Does he take out the trash, walk the dog, or do other maintenance around the home?

Your solicitor will file an application for termination of alimony, which is the first step in ending the obligation. You and your attorney can also discuss what evidence you have and what evidence you may still need to prove your case. There will also be an opportunity for discovery that will allow you to obtain information and documents from your ex-spouse. For example, you might request documents showing that someone else is paying the mortgage or rent. Or you may know from social media posts that the couple recently went on vacation and are requesting documents to prove that your ex-spouse’s girlfriend paid for the trip. After all the information has been gathered, you and your attorney can determine if you have enough evidence of cohabitation to proceed with your case. If you do, and a judge agrees, the alimony will often end backdated to the date you filed your application.

Cohabitation can be extremely difficult to prove as it is more complex than just proving that a couple spends a lot of time together.

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