Alimony is enforced after specific conditions in the Texas Family Code are satisfied. Courts in Texas ask for one spouse to offer support to the other spouse financially after their divorce. The recipient-spouse must first be qualified for the alimony.
One situation is upon the death of the recipient spouse and another is the remarrying of the recipient spouse. Spousal support can also terminated if the recipient-spouse cohabits with another.
What is Cohabitation?
When two people intimately involved are living together on a regular basis, they cohabit. This implies that the cohabitation rule is susceptible to many interpretations which can get really complicated. Spousal maintenance can end even if the recipient-spouse does not live full-time in the house of their intimate partner. There is no specification with regard to the frequency of house-sharing that may cause the termination.
Proof must be gathered first by the payer-spouse to terminate the spousal maintenance they are paying to the recipient-spouse.
The caveat in evidence gathering is that it is more costly than the alimony payments they are trying to terminate. The payer-spouse must gather evidence to prove that the recipient-spouse is in a relationship that can be considered as marriage-like.
This includes proving the intimacy and shared finances between the recipient-spouse and their new partner. Providing credit card bills, bank statements, and a shared phone plan may also be necessary. The pieces of evidence may be in the form of photos, videos, or testimony of a witness. Gathering evidence like these may require the services of a private investigator and their services are definitely not cheap.
This is the reason why the payer-spouse needs to talk to their lawyer. There is no need to go to court if the length of the period of the spousal maintenance is reasonable or no economic strain on the part of the payer-spouse will be caused.
Factors to be considered:
- Age and health condition of each spouse;
- The job history and earning potential of each spouse;
- Educational background of each spouse; and
- Ability to survive independently of each spouse
How does Cohabitation Affect Spousal Support?
The cohabitation of the recipient-spouse with their intimate partner may or may not affect spousal maintenance. This is because the provision of the Texas Family Code does not take effect on contractual agreements. It is for the divorcing parties to decide including a cohabitation clause terminating the alimony if the recipient spouse cohabits. The court is not allowed to order the end of spousal support absent a cohabitation clause. Such is the case even if the evidence of the cohabitation of the recipient-spouse is clear and convincing.
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