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Cohabitation Can Cost You Your Spousal Maintenance

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spousal maintenance, Joliet family law attorneyThe decision to award spousal maintenance following a divorce is one that must be considered very carefully by the court. Sometimes called alimony or spousal support, maintenance is used to lessen the financial impact of the dissolution, and to provide a measure of security for the future. The law in Illinois—and therefore the courts—presume that, if you are awarded maintenance, it should only continue as long as the need for it still exists.

Terminating Factors

When you are receiving spousal support, you probably have some idea of how long the order is scheduled to remain in effect. It may be intended to last a number of years, or indefinitely if you were married for a long time. However, what you may not realize is that the applicable law in Illinois includes provisions that allow maintenance to be terminated early. According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, an order for maintenance may be terminated upon the death of either party, which, of course, is reasonable enough. It also specifies that your support may be ended if you get remarried. Finally, it permits the termination of your maintenance if you cohabit “with another person on a resident, continuing conjugal basis.”

Not Just Roommates

So the real issue then becomes what exactly “resident, continuing conjugal basis means.” Does is simply mean you spend several nights a week with a new romantic partner? What about moving in with a roommate? While the actual law itself does not provide a great deal of clarification, case law around the state has set a precedent for terminating maintenance because of cohabitation.

Illinois courts have come to the conclusion that, while a sexual relationship may factor into the determination, the existence or absence of such a relationship is not crucial. Instead, if you enter into a live-in situation with another person as a “de facto husband and wife,” your maintenance can be terminated. This type of relationship can be determined based on the amount of time spent together, financial arrangements, the nature of shared activities, and several other factors.

Considering Cohabitation?

If you currently receive spousal maintenance and are considering moving in with a new partner, it is important to consider the possible ramifications. Contact an experienced Will County family law attorney today to discuss your case and get responsible legal advice from team who cares about your well-being. Call the Law Offices of Tedone and Morton, P.C., to schedule your free initial consultation and get the help you need in understanding the law.


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