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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:

  • Living together;
  • Having a long-standing relationship;
  • Sharing financial accounts and expenses;
  • Spending holidays and vacations together; and
  • Acting like co-parents to the children.

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.

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