After your California divorce has been finalized, many people will start thinking about finding love again and making themselves available for dating. Suppose you receive spousal support (alimony) payments from your former spouse. In that case, you might wonder if a new dating life will impact these payments.
The general answer is that simply dating someone will not typically impact alimony payments. Still, if your new relationship gets serious, there is a greater chance it will be a factor.
Dating is a normal part of moving forward after a divorce. You are not expected to stay single forever because you may be divorced and getting alimony payments. Finding love again can help you move forward with your life and heal past wounds.
However, a word of caution applies to this common scenario. You would be wise to “take it slow” when taking the new relationship to the next level.
Suppose you start living with your new partner, commonly called cohabitation. In that case, there is a greater chance of impacting your spousal support payments, such as reducing the amount you receive.
Simply put, cohabitation does not automatically terminate spousal support payments but increases the chances of impacting them. Thus, it would be best if you thought it through before moving in with your new partner. Let's review this topic in more detail below.
What Are Family Courts Looking for?
In California, the family courts could deem cohabitation as proof of a receiving spouse's reduced need for financial support and, as a result, may reduce or eliminate it.
Before the judge reduces or terminates spousal support, there are a few essential factors that must be proven, including the following:
- You are in a romantic relationship with your new partner;
- You are now living together with your new partner.
Suppose you are the spouse making alimony payments and need proof because your former spouse is attempting to hide the fact that they are cohabitating with someone.
While not always easy to acquire documentation, some items include a shared bank account or a rental agreement. Perhaps you can show there is an engagement to be married, or your former spouse gave birth to a new baby.
Suppose you are the receiving spouse and move to another state with your new partner. In that case, you can still be subjected to California's cohabitation law and have your spousal support payments reduced or terminated.
What Are the California Cohabitation Laws?
Under the law, cohabiting is defined as “living together as man and wife,” but without a marriage requirement. Therefore, it does not mean an occasional sleepover with your new partner.
After your divorce, many don't get involved in the dating game for a long time as they are not yet interested in a new relationship.
Everyone will handle romance differently after their marriage has ended. However, once you find a new serious relationship, you might be eager to start sharing a new home with them.
Many people do not realize that living together with someone after a divorce can impact alimony payments. As noted, the alimony payments could be reduced or even terminated completely.
California Family Code 4323 says, “(a)(1) Except as otherwise agreed to by the parties in writing, there is a rebuttable presumption, affecting the burden of proof, of decreased need for spousal support if the supported party is cohabiting with a non-marital partner. Upon a determination that circumstances have changed, the court may modify or terminate the spousal support as provided for in Chapter 6 (commencing with Section 3650) of Part 1.”
Subsection (2) says, “Holding oneself out to be the spouse of the person with whom one is cohabiting is not necessary to constitute cohabitation as the term is used in this subdivision.”
Subsection (b) says, “The income of a supporting spouse's subsequent spouse or non-marital partner shall not be considered when determining or modifying spousal support.”
How Can Cohabitation Be Proven?
Before the family court can legally reduce or terminate spousal support payments, it must be proven that the receiving spouse is in a romantic relationship and living with a new partner. This can be proven by the following:
- Joint bank account to pay bills;
- Co-signed rental agreement or mortgage;
- Buying a home to live together.
Even in situations where these above factors don't apply, there are other signs that you may be involved in new permanent relations, which would allow your former spouse to seek a reduction or termination of spousal support payments.
Contact a California Divorce Lawyer for Help
If you have questions about spousal support payments, contact our law firm for a free case evaluation by phone or through the contact form.
When someone is awarded alimony in a marital dissolution agreement, they might need to maintain those payments as long as possible.
However, getting back into the dating game could help you achieve independence after a divorce.
Thus, you need to know when and if dating can jeopardize alimony payments. As noted, dating only will not impact payments. It's when the relationship gets serious that might have some consequences.
When you decide to live with your new partner, you risk losing the alimony payments. You can contact us for guidance to obtain the best possible outcome.
Furman & Zavatsky are Los Angeles family law and divorce lawyers. We provide legal representation throughout Southern California.