Minnesota recipients of spousal maintenance who are cohabitating with a significant other may come under scrutiny following the enactment of a new statute allowing the curtailment of spousal maintenance if a recipient has a live-in relationship, legally known as cohabitation.
Prior to the new measure, going into effect August 1st, cohabitation did not trigger a modification of spousal maintenance – only remarriage was an issue. Under the new provision, however, spousal maintenance may be reduced, modified, suspended, reserved or terminated due to co-habitation upon request of the party obligated to make the payments.
This is likely to cause a substantial increase in litigation in Minnesota, as decisions to modify or even cut spousal support will be at the discretion of the courts who will be taxed with considering such things as whether a recipient would marry the cohabitant but for the spousal maintenance and the economic benefit realized by the recipient.
There will certainly be a measure of prying to ascertain the details, which flies in the face of Minnesota’s no-fault divorce system and also an existing law prohibiting judges from considering the financial circumstances of each party’s spouse in connection with a request to modify existing support obligations. Many are anticipating a bumpy transition.
And where does Illinois stand on cohabitation? The paying spouse’s obligation to pay alimony ends immediately when the supported spouse begins cohabiting with another person. Cohabitation means that two people are living in a manner similar to a spousal relationship, which a judge determines by considering such factors as the length of the relationship, how much time the couple spends together, the nature of activities the couple engages in, the interrelation of their personal affairs (such as joint banking or the purchase of property together), and whether the couple spends vacations and holidays together. In other words: walks like a duck, quacks like a duck…is a duck.
If you would like more information regarding modification of spousal maintenance or child support because of changes in your or your ex-spouse’s circumstances, the Law Offices of Ronald L. Bell can assist you. You may be able to reduce or enhance the spousal maintenance or child support obligation through a post decree modification. Contact us today for help.
Source: Minnpost.com, “Minnesota’s New Living-Together Law Will Cause Unintended Results”, by Cathy Gorlin, July 19, 2016.