How Cohabitation Can Affect Spousal MaintenanceSpousal maintenance payments established in a divorce agreement are terminated if the recipient party remarries. There is no argument that the remarried party has a new source of income and no longer needs their former spouse to pay for their living expenses. A court may also terminate maintenance if the recipient is in a de facto marriage, meaning that the couple is not legally married but behaves as if they are. The spousal maintenance payor is responsible for proving that a de facto marriage exists and that maintenance payments are no longer appropriate.

Proving a De Facto Marriage

There is a difference between an intimate relationship and a de facto marriage. Illinois courts look for several signs that a relationship is behaving like a marriage, such as a couple:

A court will need proof of several factors in order to conclude that a de facto marriage exists. Cohabitation is important evidence but may not be enough on its own.

Recent Case

The de facto marriage exception for spousal maintenance prevents someone from taking advantage of the system by not officially remarrying. However, a spousal maintenance payor can also try to terminate payments by exaggerating the seriousness of the recipient’s relationship. In the Illinois case of In re Marriage of Churchill, a man petitioned to terminate his spousal maintenance payments to his former wife by claiming that she was cohabiting with a boyfriend. The court rejected the claim, stating that the man had failed to prove that a de facto marriage existed:

The court awarded permanent maintenance to the woman, citing her inability to earn an income that would pay for the standard of living established during her marriage.

Contact a Naperville, Illinois, Divorce Attorney

There are several situations in which spousal maintenance payments can be modified or eliminated. A DuPage County divorce lawyer at Calabrese Associates, P.C., can determine whether your situation will allow a change to your spousal maintenance agreement. To schedule a consultation, call 630-393-3111.