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Will Cohabitation After a NY Divorce Affect My Alimony?

by | May 2, 2023 | Alimony and Spousal Support, NY

Moving on after a divorce is sometimes just as hard as getting the divorce in the first place. Things can be even more difficult when alimony or spousal support and new relationships are involved. If you receive spousal support and start dating again, you need to know how this could impact your payments from your ex.

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Understanding Cohabitation

“Cohabitation” is a term used to describe the act of living with someone else. It applies to any living arrangement with multiple people but is most commonly used to refer to people in romantic relationships who live together.

How Cohabitation Can Impact Spousal Support Payments

If your ex can prove that you’re living with someone with whom you have a romantic relationship, your alimony payments could stop.

Spousal support is almost always temporary and is meant to help people get on their feet after a divorce. Rarely is permanent alimony awarded by a court and usually only when a spouse is unlikely to ever become financially stable on their own.

But living independently isn’t the only way a court might consider you financially rehabilitated after a divorce. The court might also think you no longer need support if you’re in a live-in relationship where you can share income and expenses with someone else.

Fortunately, this generally doesn’t apply to roommate situations. If you’re living with one or more people to whom you aren’t romantically connected, and you each pay a portion of the rent and utilities, your alimony should be safe.

That said, it’s important to be aware that more courts are taking into account LGBTQ relationships. Living with someone of the same sex may not be enough to convince a judge that you’re only roommates.

Receiving Alimony? Protect Yourself from Claims of Cohabitation

If you receive alimony or spousal support payments, you need to take steps to protect yourself from accusations of cohabitation. Following these five tips can help you protect your spousal support.

  • Don’t talk about your love life with other people. Even if you trust them not to tell your ex, you can never fully guarantee they won’t. Or, they may tell someone else, who then tells your ex. If you’re wrong, the consequences could be very costly to you.
  • Be careful about what you post online. Don’t offer any information about your relationships or living situation on social media. Avoid posting photos of anyone you are dating or anyone staying in your home who is not a family member. You should also be careful of innocuous things in your photographs, like a partner’s laundry clearly showing on the floor or a pair of toothbrushes in the bathroom.
  • Keep utilities in your name and pay for them yourself. Don’t let other people put utilities like the electric or cable or Internet at your home in their name. This could be used to suggest that person lives there full-time.
  • Watch what goes on outside. Avoid letting your neighbors see anything that could be mistaken for cohabitation. For example, don’t let dating partners park their vehicles overnight at your home too many nights in a row.
  • Avoid dating for now. If you’re receiving a lot of alimony or spousal support or your ex has the ability to spy on you, you may want to consider avoiding dating entirely for a period of time. This can protect you from even false accusations if you can prove you aren’t romantically linked to anyone.

Even if you’re not living with anyone, if your ex can make it look like you are, your spousal support payments could be at risk.

Modification of Spousal Support

If your former spouse is paying alimony and believes you are living with someone else, they can file a petition with the court to receive a modification of spousal support. This won’t be granted right away. A hearing will be scheduled where you and your ex will each have time to present evidence to prove why alimony payments should or should not be adjusted.

For more information, please read our article, How to Avoid Paying Alimony or Spousal Support in New York

Protect Your Right to Alimony With an experienced Long Island, NY Divorce Lawyer

A qualified, experienced divorce lawyer can help protect your right to alimony or spousal support if your ex doesn’t want to pay. Our team of compassionate attorneys will work with you to gather strong evidence to prove your side. And, we’ll guide you through each stage of your case so you know what to expect.

Contact us today to learn more about what our veteran New York family attorneys can do for you by dialing 631-923-1910 or fill in the short form on this page for a free case evaluation and consultation.

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About the Author

Robert E. Hornberger, Esq., Founding Partner, Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C.

  • Over 20 years practicing matrimonial law
  • Over 1,000 cases successfully resolved
  • Founder and Partner of Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C.
  • Experienced and compassionate Long Island Divorce Attorney, Family Law Attorney, and Divorce Mediator
  • Licensed to practice law in the State of New York
  • New York State Bar Association member
  • Nassau County Bar Association member
  • Suffolk County Bar Association member
  • “Super Lawyer” Metro Rising Star
  • Nominated Best of Long Island Divorce Attorney four consecutive years
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee Contributor
  • Collaborative Law Association of New York – Former Director
  • Martindale Hubbell Distinguished Designation
  • America’s Most Honored Professionals – Top 5%
  • Lead Counsel Rated – Divorce Law
  • American Institute of Family Law Attorneys 10 Best
  • International Academy of Collaborative Professionals
  • Graduate of Hofstra University School of Law
  • Double Bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy, Politics & Law and History from SUNY Binghamton University
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Melissa Rappa
Melissa Rappa
18:09 08 Feb 24
At one of the hardest and most stressful times of my life, it was so comforting to have a team at Hornberger and Verbitsky who ALWAYS responded in record speed to my questions, phone calls, emails or texts and who I felt really cared about helping me through this difficult time. It was a long few years and I am grateful to all of you. Thank you so much Rob, AnneMarie, Christine, Patty, Joan and Lawrence. Your guidance, professionalism and expertise is appreciated beyond measure.
Paul Carmichael
Paul Carmichael
16:21 11 Dec 23
I would give 6 stars if I could. I can't say enough good things about Robert and his firm. We were in a situation for over 2 years and I could have never made it through without Robert's experience and knowledge. He guided me through tough times when needed and his expertise could "read" the situation and make the next best move for me. He was tough when he needed to be tough (thankfully) and at the same time guided me through the process to make me feel comfortable in an uncomfortable situation. I would not want to go through this process without Robert and his team having my back. he helped move the case along and not waste any time or money. One last time, I 100% endorse Robert and his expertise.

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