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What Does Cohabitation Mean in Relation to Spousal Support?


Having to pay your ex-spouse alimony can be a hard pill to swallow, particularly if the court orders you to pay spousal support indefinitely. If you divorced relatively young, this means you could have an additional monthly bill for decades. However, even indefinite alimony can come to an end. Virginia law §20-109 allows you to seek to reduce or terminate alimony in certain situations, including your ex-spouse remarrying or “habitually cohabiting with another person in a relationship analogous to a marriage.” If you know that your ex has moved in with someone they have been dating, it is time to speak with a Leesburg divorce attorney to learn more about ending your alimony responsibility.

What is Cohabitation?

To determine if you may be eligible to seek an end to your spousal support, you need to understand Virginia’s meaning behind cohabitation in a relationship analogous to marriage. The law does not provide an exact definition, but previous cases provide a great deal of information. Cohabitation for the purpose of alimony seems to include:

  • Living within the same household;
  • Continuity of the relationship;
  • Intimate involvement, which does not need to include sexual intercourse;
  • Financial support; and
  • Other indications that the relationship is long-term or permanent.

Virginia courts have found on numerous occasions that the two individuals do not have to be of the opposite sex and do not have to be in a romantic relationship necessarily. The courts will look at how intertwined the two individual’s lives are and whether it resembles the connection between spouses.

Clear and Convincing Evidence

There is actually more to the law than simply saying your ex is cohabitating. To lower or terminate your alimony, you must prove to the court your spouse is living with a person in a relationship like marriage through clear and convincing evidence for a period of twelve months.  It is up to you and your divorce attorney to provide genuine proof that it is much more likely to be true that your ex-spouse is cohabitating than not.

Elements that can support your assertion of cohabitation include:

  • Your ex-spouse and his or her current partner have the same residence;
  • Neither your ex nor his or her partner maintains a separate residence;
  • Your ex and his or her partner are in a romantic or sexual relationship;
  • Both your ex and his or her partner keep their clothes in the same home;
  • Your ex and his or her partner socialize as a couple;
  • Your ex and his or her partner attend family gathers together; and
  • Your ex and his or her partner share household expenses, vehicles etc.

Contact a Leesburg Divorce Attorney Today

If you believe your ex is now living with another partner and should no longer receive alimony, contact the experienced Leesburg divorce attorneys of Whitbeck Cisneros McElroy today. We can explain the process of returning to court to seek a termination and investigate the situation to provide evidence to the court of the cohabitation. Call us or contact us online to schedule your initial consultation right away.



Whitbeck Cisneros McElroy PC

106 Harrison Street SE
Suite 300
Leesburg, Virginia 20175

703.997.4982 Tel
703.777.9079 Fax

Whitbeck Cisneros McElroy PC is located in Leesburg, VA and serves clients in and around Ashburn, Paeonian Springs, Hamilton, Sterling, Lincoln, Waterford, Leesburg, Purcellville, Lovettsville, Middleburg, Philomont, Round Hill, Arcola, Aldie, Dulles, Bluemont, Herndon, Haymarket, Reston, Great Falls, Clarke County, Fairfax County, Fairfax City County, Fauquier County, Loudoun County, Prince William County, Frederick County, Warren County, Winchester County, Arlington County.

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