Alimony and Cohabitation Considerations

Moving forward from a divorce, one must consider the implications that future relationships may have on alimony mandated through the settlement of a civil case as such. You may be ready to engage in a relationship, but cohabitation after separation may interfere with the financial agreement set forth by the courts between you and your previous spouse. Therefore, the following should be carefully considered.

What is deemed cohabitation in the eyes of the North Carolina court system?

Cohabitation is when two adults share the same residence continuously and habitually while additionally assuming the marital rights, duties, and obligations that are typically manifested by married people.

Additional factors that are considered when determining whether two individuals are considered cohabitants are:

  • the frequency of dwelling together,
  • monogamy,
  • location of personal property,
  • delegation of living expenses, and
  • activities considered marital in nature, such as attendance to family functions, eating meals together and a variety of day-to-day activities that are in accordance with engagement in a marital relationship.

How is alimony impacted by cohabitation?

Cohabitation can directly impact alimony. Only a spouse who is considered financially dependent can receive alimony. Even then, it is only awarded if the other spouse has the ability to provide financial support. The alimony amount is determined by the following factors:

  • employment income and other earnings of each party,
  • income earning potential,
  • debt obligations,
  • expenses necessary to support each party and each parties’ current legal obligations to provide support for additional parties, and
  • accustomed standard of living.

Because cohabitation may affect one or more of the above factors, alimony may be terminated if it is determined by the court that the dependent is, in fact, participating in cohabitation. In order for cohabitation to result in cessation of alimony, there must be proof of a permanent relationship. Still, alimony changes are only constituted if cohabitation results in economic consequences.

If you are involved in, or intend to pursue, what you believe to be a permanent relationship, the legal advice of an attorney concerning your situation may be pertinent to the preservation of your current alimony agreement. Contact us today or call (919) 832-2280.