Maintenance, or what used to be called alimony, is appropriate in some divorce cases depending upon the circumstances. The two most important circumstances are the length of marriage, (the longer the marriage the more likely an order of maintenance,) and a disparity of incomes. The spouse earning substantially more than the other, in a long term marriage, is likely to have a maintenance obligation. The longer the marriage and the more disparity in income, the higher the maintenance will be and for a longer amount of time.
There are ways to avoid a maintenance obligation, and that will be left to discuss in another blog. Maintenance can be limited in term and amount, and can also end upon remarriage or cohabitation. Remarriage is simple; however, cohabitation is not as easy to define. An easy definition of cohabitation is “when you see it you will know it”!
Cohabitation is when two people live together as though they are husband and wife. However, simply living together as husband and wife, without a significant change in financial circumstances will most likely not end a maintenance obligation. This is important to know if you are paying maintenance and it is even more important to know if you are receiving maintenance.
In Wisconsin, in order to consider terminating maintenance because of cohabitation, courts will want to determine if there is a substantial improvement in the ex-spouse’s financial situation. For example, if a woman is receiving maintenance, she lives with another person and she is no longer paying rent, most judges would see that as an improvement in the woman’s financial circumstances. A modification of maintenance could be appropriate. On the other hand, if the woman’s expenses remain the same, then living with another is of little financial benefit and unlikely to end her receiving maintenance from her ex-spouse.
Another fact that the courts look to is whether the cohabitating couple are purposely living as husband and wife but not getting married in order for one of them to continue to receive maintenance. Things like bills, leases, mortgages and deeds in both names, vehicle titles in both names strongly support a finding of “cohabitation”, and could result in the end of maintenance.
If you have a maintenance obligation and suspect your ex-spouse is cohabitating, there are things you can do to end maintenance, or at least lower your monthly obligation. On the other hand, if you are a maintenance recipient and are in a relationship, there are “dos and don’ts” that can help you protect your maintenance award.
Should you have questions or concerns about either ending or lowering your maintenance obligation or continuing to receive maintenance, or have any questions about divorce or post-divorce issues, please contact one of the attorneys at Krueger Hernandez & Thompson SC. We have been representing families dealing with divorce matters for over 30 years. Please call 1(800) 431-9776; email firstname.lastname@example.org or check out our website https://khtlawyers.com if you have any questions or need any help with your family law matters.
At Krueger Hernandez & Thompson SC, We Listen, We Care, We Get Results!