Family law issues don’t stop once the divorce is finalized. In fact, we often get questions from clients years after their matter is resolved. One of the most frequent topics relates to alimony, specifically tied to continuing alimony payments to a spouse. Alimony payments can last for years and years often only terminating only when the payee gets remarries. It’s no surprise that payors want payments to end as soon as possible. One of the common lines of inquiry we hear from clients revolves around cohabitation.
Maryland Code, Family Law Section 11-108 provides that unless the parties agree otherwise, alimony terminates upon the death of either party or upon the marriage of the recipient. Payors often want to know if they can terminate alimony payments when their former spouse moves in with a new partner such that they have all the benefits of a marital relationship but without the actual marriage. The short answer is probably not unless a cohabitation clause exists in the divorce agreement.
The issue of Cohabitation has been raised in the Maryland House of Delegates. On February 2, 2011, legislation had been introduced in the Maryland House of Delegates to codify the termination of alimony upon cohabitation of the recipient of alimony. Specifically, House Bill 304 proposed to terminate alimony if the Recipient of alimony cohabitated for a period of at least 30 days with an individual who is not a member of the Recipient’s family. Ultimately, the bill didn’t go anywhere in the Maryland House but it is an issue with which the legislature in concerned.
The issue of cohabitation has been addressed in Court in Maryland and also by the Maryland Court of Appeals. To help explain more on cohabitation, court rulings, and steps to address cohabitation we have written a more in-depth examination of the issue. You can find the article here.