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Can Being In a New Relationship During a Divorce Impact Alimony?

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For years court decisions based on various fact patterns set forth the line between dating and cohabitation. Effective July 9, 2021, the legislature has stepped in to lay out the ground rules.

Now at the request of either party by petition or motion, the court may make orders for the modification or termination of term alimony upon a finding of the payee’s cohabitation as described below.

The court will find that cohabitation exists if there is a relationship between an alimony payee and another unrelated adult resembling that of a marriage, under such circumstances that it would be unjust to make an order for alimony, to continue any existing alimony order, or to continue the amount of an existing alimony order. In making this finding, the court shall consider evidence of any of the following concerning the payee and the other living person:

(a) Living together on a continual basis in a primary residence;

(b) Sharing of expenses;

(c) The economic interdependence of the couple, or economic dependence of one upon the other;

(d) Joint ownership or use of real or personal property, including financial accounts;

(e) The existence of an intimate relationship between the persons;

(f) Holding themselves out to be a couple through statements or representations made to third parties or are generally reputed to be a couple; and

(g) Any other factors that the court finds material and relevant.

If an alimony order is terminated because of cohabitation or marriage, the court may reinstate the original alimony award upon finding that the payee’s cohabitation has ceased or that the marriage has ended in divorce, provided that the request is made within five years of the effective date of the termination order. If the alimony order being reinstated had a specific termination date, reinstatement shall not extend the termination date, however, if the order specified a number of payments, the reinstatement may be for up to the number of payments remaining in the order.

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