Spousal support is the obligation in which an individual is required to make consistent payments to their former spouse in order to provide for them financially. The court will usually issue a spousal support order to the individual that is responsible for maintaining the standard of living during the marriage. In California, spousal support is considered to be temporary until the recipient of these payments can full become self-sufficient and financially independent.
However, are individuals still required to make spousal support payments if their former spouse is living with someone else? In this article, our spousal support lawyers will specifically explain how cohabitation can affect spousal support.
Cohabitation is Different than Actual Marriage
California laws are very clear that spousal support payments end when the former spouse gets remarried. Therefore, there is no need to debate this issue if you believe that you are still entitled to pay spousal support once your former spouse remarries. However, there is a basic difference between marriage and cohabitation. Cohabitation is the situation in which two romantically involved people live with one another. The state of California specifically provides some provisions that that outline the necessary steps to take to eliminate spousal support in the event of cohabitation, but the process isn’t that simple.
Unlike in a marital situation, there isn’t a specific law that allows you to elect to cease spousal support payments once your former spouse moves in with another person. However, if your former spouse moves in with another person, California will automatically assume that there is no more need for spousal support under the guidelines of the California family code line 4323.
There is An Exception…
Of course, under the same code, your former spouse does have a say on the issue of whether or not they can still receive spousal support payments. Specifically, California family code line 4323 states, “there is a rebuttable presumption, affecting the burden of proof, of decreased need for spousal support if the supported party is cohabiting with a non-marital partner.” The key word in that phrase is “rebuttable.”
If you request that your spousal support is eliminated or reduced, your former spouse can issue a rebuttal to continue receiving the payments on the same conditions. Therefore, the process of actually altering your existing spousal support order is difficult, unless you can prearrange these alterations with your former spouse.
The Court Will Overlook the Income of the Third Party
While cohabitation can have an impact on your existing spousal support order, the impact may not be as great as you think. For example, if your former spouse moves in with another individual that has a significant income, you may still be entitled to pay for spousal support.
While this may not seem fair, the court does not take the income of a third party into consideration once a request to modify or eliminate a spousal support order has been issued. This is primarily due to the fact that your former spouse is cohabiting with an individual that he or she is not married to.
For more information, speak to our spousal support attorneys today.