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Discussing Cohabitation And Its Effect On Alimony In California


Even if you have never gone through a divorce yourself, you are likely already familiar with some of the most common concepts or basics of divorce. Any applicable issues of property division, child custody, and alimony (or spousal support) need to be squared away in order to be granted a divorce. However, when you or a loved one are going through a divorce, these concepts and the impacts of how they actually operate become very real. One issue that is rarely cut-and-dry is that of alimony, or spousal support. How this plays out in a real-world divorce varies from case to case, and it can become confusing to understand how it works, and what may trigger a court to reconsider the terms of the alimony payment. This article aims to discuss how and when cohabitation can affect the court-ordered alimony payments.

What is the Law Concerning Spousal Payments and Cohabitation?

California Family Code 4323 discusses the current California rules concerning how cohabitation affects an order to pay alimony. In essence, the law provides that there is a presumption that the need for spousal support has decreased if the supported person is now cohabitating with a nonmarital partner. If the court determines that circumstances have changed from the time they created the spousal support order, the court can choose to modify or terminate the ordered spousal support.

What Does “Cohabitation” Really Mean?

As is stated in the California code, cohabitation does not require that the cohabitors be married. There must simply be an interpersonal relationship like that shared by romantic partners. Having a platonic roommate may not affect your alimony order, but the code does not provide a specific definition for the Judge to lean on. If your ex-spouse requests the alimony order be changed due to a significant change in circumstances associated with you living with your roommate, there is a potential that a Judge could determine that the need to provide support has been reduced.

How Can You Prove Cohabitation

There are a variety of ways that one can establish that an ex-spouse is cohabitating with a nonmarital partner. Some of those include:

  • Have the court question your ex-spouse. Lying to the Judge amounts to perjury and may cause them serious consequences.
  • Have the court question the person you suspect is your ex’s cohabitator. Even if your ex IS willing to commit perjury, odds are their partner will not be.
  • Private investigators can provide evidence of cohabitation
  • Other potential witnesses can be subpoenaed to appear in court. You may want to consider witnesses such as neighbors, friends, or landlords.

Contact Cardwell, Steigerwald Young

Every divorce case is different. Unfortunately, sometimes circumstances arise and portions of a divorce decree that worked before need to be reopened or modified. If you have a question about cohabitation or alimony in your own divorce case, contact the San Francisco spousal support lawyers at Cardwell, Steigerwald Young today. We have helped countless clients navigate their family law matters, and that experience allows us to offer valuable insight into gray areas of the law. We are standing by to discuss your case.


Premarital Cohabitation Is Still Associated With Greater Odds of Divorce | Institute for Family Studies (ifstudies.org)


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