How to defend yourself against allegations of cohabitation

You sacrificed a lot to raise your family and support your spouse. When divorce occurs, you should be compensated for those efforts, especially if you’re going to struggle to be self-sufficient after your marriage dissolves.

You may be able to obtain the support that you need by seeking alimony. But even if you successfully obtain an order for support, you may see your payments jeopardized when certain events occur and your ex-spouse files a motion to modify. One circumstance that often gives rise to a motion to modify is when allegations of cohabitation arise.

How cohabitation may affect your spousal support award

Remember, the alimony that has been ordered is meant to provide you with financial support until you can become self-sufficient. This may occur once you obtain a certain level of education or training and can secure employment, but cohabitation can also affect the perception of how much support you actually need from your former spouse.

This is because in most cohabitation relationships expenses are split or a new love interest may even cover all costs. Your former spouse can then argue that you are no longer in need of financial assistance since you’re getting support elsewhere.

How is your former spouse going to try to prove cohabitation?

There are a lot of techniques that your spouse might try to use to prove cohabitation. He or she may attempt to do each of the following:

  • Determine where you’re staying overnight, including which residence you return to after work and where you leave from in morning
  • Talk to neighbors to determine how much time you’re spending at the residence, who all lives there, and what the nature of your relationship is with the other individual
  • Figure out who is paying for relevant bills, such as rent or mortgage and utility bills
  • Stalk your social media to see if you are in a relationship with someone else who may be providing you with financial support

This can all be very stressful, especially when your financial stability is on the line. Your former spouse may end up watching almost every move you make, either in-person or through a private investigator, so you’ll want to make sure that you’re being careful with the image of your life that you’re presenting.

Defending yourself against allegations of cohabitation

Under California law, there’s a presumption that your support should be reduced or eliminated if it’s shown that you’re cohabiting with another individual. So, your best defense is to show that you’re not actually cohabiting with another individual. Here, you can show that you still have your own residence and that you pay your own bills, even if you’re in another relationship.

But even if you’re cohabiting, you can rebut the presumption that your alimony award should be reduced or eliminated if you present sufficient evidence to show that you still need the support. This evidence may include that you and the other individual are paying your own bills and that you still have significant financial needs that remain unmet.

Do you need a legal ally on your side?

Having your alimony reduced or eliminated can devastate your financial wellbeing. With so much at stake, you need to defend yourself as aggressively as possible when a motion to modify is filed. If you’d like to learn more about how to go about presenting your arguments, then you might want to discuss the unique circumstances of your case with an attorney who is experienced in handling these matters.