February 23, 2017

Monthly Misconception for January – “Cohabitation means automatic alimony end.”

Monthly Misconception for January – “Cohabitation means automatic alimony end.”

No, it doesn’t.

Fortunately or unfortunately, depending upon whether you are paying or receiving alimony, alimony doesn’t typically end automatically when the recipient lives with another person.   Sometimes it doesn’t even end at all.  But sometimes it does.  Other times the amount will be decreased or the obligation will be suspended but not permanently terminated.

Sounds confusing – because it is.  The law is somewhat complex and the analysis is very fact specific, meaning the result is heavily dependent upon the facts in each situation.

But here is a preliminary outline for those of you wanting to learn about the basics so that you will be more aware if or when a potential modification situation arises.

First, does your divorce settlement agreement or divorce judgment specifically address cohabitation, what cohabitation means, and the impact cohabitation might have on alimony?

If so, that is your starting point.

Second, if your divorce settlement agreement or divorce judgment doesn’t specifically address cohabitation, or references Section 46b-86(b) of   the Connecticut General Statutes, the statute is your starting point.  Section 46b-86(b) is commonly known as the “cohabitation        statute”.

Under the cohabitation statute, if the person paying alimony can satisfy two requirements, then the Superior Court has the authority to reduce, suspend or terminate alimony.  Note that the reduction, suspension or termination isn’t automatic under the Cohabitation statute. The divorcing couple must return to Court for the Court to enter an order.

The two requirements, or prerequisites, to reduction, suspension or termination of alimony are:

a. The alimony recipient must be living with another person.  Living typically means a full time living arrangement with a romantic companion.  Spending even most nights each month in another person’s home and returning to one’s own home during the day doesn’t usually constitute living with them.


b. The alimony recipient’s financial needs must be decreased because of the living arrangement.  This normally occurs           if either the alimony recipient is sharing expenses with his/her companion or the companion is paying the alimony recipient’s expenses.

Remember, the person seeking a reduction, suspension or termination must prove both requirements before a court can even consider the request to modify the alimony.

The best first step then for a person wondering whether alimony might be subject to change due to the recipient’s living situation is to meet with an experienced divorce lawyer for an initial consultation.  Getting some preliminary legal advice should leave you with realistic expectations and likely save you time, money, and emotional energy in the long run.   

Feel free to contact me at 203-271-3888 or lcappalli@cappallihill.com to discuss your situation and perhaps schedule your initial consultation.  I’m here to help.


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