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How to prove cohabitation when alimony is in play

On Behalf of | Jan 10, 2023 | Family Law |

If you’ve been ordered to pay alimony, you know the financial strain that it can create. While that support is typically meant to be temporary until your former spouse can support themselves financially, in a lot of cases the receiving spouse ends up taking advantage of the system. This often happens when the individual who is receiving spousal support starts living with a new love interest.

How cohabitation affects spousal support

 Under Pennsylvania law, cohabitation may be a justification to end a spousal support obligation. This is because the whole point of alimony is to support your spouse until they can become financially independent. If they’re living with someone else, they are likely receiving financial support from someone other than you. Therefore, the payments that you make to your former spouse end up becoming surplus to which your former spouse isn’t entitled.

How do you prove cohabitation?

 Before filing a motion to end spousal support, you need to make sure that you have strong evidence demonstrating that your former spouse is, in fact, residing with someone else and receiving financial support from them. How do you go about doing that? You may want to consider doing the following:

  • Search social media: As you probably already know, you can learn a lot about someone by scanning their social media. So, if you have access to it, take a look at your former spouse’s social medial profiles to see if you can find anything indicative of being in a relationship, cohabitating or receiving support from someone else. There may be references to new relationships, vacations or a new shared home. Grab screenshots of evidence that you think will be helpful to you.
  • Talk to neighbors: Your former spouse’s neighbors may be able to give you a sense of where your former spouse is staying and if anyone else is residing with them. The comings and goings of your spouse can help give you direction in your investigation.
  • Subpoena relevant records: Financial records may be key to your argument. You can probably get access to your former spouse’s bank and housing records by simply subpoenaing them. If your former spouse fails to comply with the subpoena, you can go to the court to ask for assistance in obtaining whatever records you need.
  • Talk to your former spouse: This can be hard to do, but pointed questions might get you more information than you expected. Even if you think your spouse is lying, your questions may put you in a better position when you file your request with the court.

Keep in mind that there may be a bit of a gray area when it comes to serious dating relationships. In many of these cases, the receiving spouse tends to argue that cohabitation is not occurring and that they are merely in a serious relationship where the parties maintain separate residences. This argument can carry significant weight in court, which is why you need to be as thorough as possible when you’re gathering evidence to support your motion.

Do you need an advocate in your corner?

 You shouldn’t be taken advantage of when you’re paying spousal support. Yet, that very well might happen if you’re not proactive in protecting your interests. That’s why if you have suspicions that your spouse is no longer entitled to alimony, you might want to reach out to an advocate who can help you analyze the facts of your case and craft a persuasive legal argument aimed at relieving you of your obligation.

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