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Can I live with my significant other and still get alimony?

There are many positives to leaving a California divorce with a mindset to move onward and upward in a healthy fashion. The alternative you may have faced was wallowing in the pain and disappointment that the ended marital relationship that you were leaving behind.

However, if you are ready emotionally to move in with a partner, and you are receiving spousal support paid by your ex-spouse, you may have reason for concern. You may also want to look ahead to this possibility as you mediate the divorce settlement prior to your decree

The California Family Code, section 4323 notifies us that the court will presume that you have a reduced need for your spousal support if you are cohabiting with your significant other, even if not married to that other. This presumption is rebuttable, however, which means you can prove that your need remains.

You will gain a burden of proof

But, that burden of proving you still need spousal support, or the same amount of spousal support, is now yours. If you fail to prove it, the court can end the spousal support obligation or reduce it according to this changed circumstance.

You and your ex-spouse can waive this in your written agreement

The statute in play here does not apply if you and your ex-spouse have agreed in writing that cohabitation will not affect alimony. As such, plan for this possibility prior to signing off on your agreement and if that time as passed, check your marital settlement agreement to see if it mentions that contingency in your favor.

Cohabitating bar can exist even if not holding out as married

With regard to what constitutes the type of living arrangement that can cancel out your right to alimony, the code section makes clear that you do not have to act like spouses in front of others, to be held to be cohabitating in a manner that will affect alimony. Whether you are “holding yourself” out as married is inconsequential.

Cohabitating partner’s income not relevant

That said, however, the court may not use your living partner’s to evaluate the spousal support you need. It is the mere cohabitating that can allow the court to reevaluate the alimony award, because it is a change of circumstances.

This information is only intended to educate and should not be interpreted as legal advice.

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