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What Is Cohabitation, How Does It Stop Alimony, And How Do I Prove Cohabitation?

If your ex-spouse is living with another partner in an intimate relationship, essentially acting like a married couple, they are cohabiting. The essential elements of cohabitation are:

  1. An intimate relationship
  2. Sharing a residence
  3. A shared household with shared decisions and expenses.
Shared Households

When it comes to shared households, the couple is required to live in the same home over 50% of the time. This means that they could still be considered to be cohabitating even if one or both of them maintains an independent second home.

However, in order to qualify as cohabitation, the arrangement cannot be short-term, such as a vacation rental for a week. Rather, the cohabiter’s domestic relationship generally needs to be longer term and similar to a marriage—though how long this has to go on for is not exact. Some Utah cases indicate that cohabiting for more than 50 verifiable days is sufficient to prove cohabitation.

One characteristic of a cohabiting couple is that each of them can come and go from the residence whenever they wish, regardless of the time of day or night, without permission from the other resident. If both cohabiters have keys to the home and garage door openers and both come and go at will, that is good evidence of a shared household or residence.

Intimate Relationship

Regarding the intimate relationship requirement, sex is nearly always sufficient to prove an intimate relationship. However, intimacy may also be proven without proving the cohabiters are having sex. When a cohabiting couple acts like a married couple, the judge will likely assume they’re having sex.

Household Expenses

One of the main points to prove cohabitation is sharing expenses and decisions. Married couples generally share money, and to prove cohabitation, you usually have to prove that money is being shared. For example, money is being shared when a cohabiting couple:

  • Maintains joint bank accounts.
  • Shares utility payments.
  • Are joint owners of vehicles.
  • Make financial decisions together.
  • Share household expenses such as food and utility payments.
  • Transfer money back and forth between their personal bank accounts.
  • Go shopping together.
  • Pay for and take vacations together.
  • Share payments on the residence.
  • File taxes jointly.
  • Apply for loans or mortgages together

These are only some of a long list of ways that couples can be shown to share money, decision-making, and costs.

How Can I Prove My Ex-Spouse Is Now Cohabitating With His Or Her Partner?

There are a number of ways to prove an ex-spouse is cohabitating with their partner. The two most popular ways are to hire a private investigator and to obtain evidence through the Discovery Process.

Private investigators are usually independent contractors with experience in surveillance. They may “stakeout” the shared residence to see how often the cohabiting couple are spending nights together. A P.I. may also attach GPS trackers to your ex-spouse and/or their partner’s cars, and monitor where they go. In addition, they may also be able to conduct financial investigations and track their movements on social media, as well as obtain cellphone data.

As a rule, it is best to commission at least 60 days of surveillance, so you have an accurate sample set of information to bring before the court. In addition, the private investigator’s work should be done before a Petition to Terminate Alimony is filed (and therefore before your ex is notified that you are onto them.)

The second common method is having your attorney uncover evidence through the Discovery Process. (Please follow this link to learn more about discovery your attorney may use.)

Once you have good evidence of cohabitation, most ex-spouses will admit what they’re doing and negotiate reduction and eventual termination of alimony in good faith.

For more information on Alimony in Utah, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (801) 616-3301 today.

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*Child Welfare Law Specialist Nat’l Assoc. of Counsel for Children