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How does cohabitation affect alimony in Arizona?

On Behalf of | May 5, 2023 | Family Law

Being subjected to a spousal support order can be financially crushing. Even if you agreed to it through a settlement negotiation, you can find that life changes leave you in a position where you’re no longer able or no longer want to provide that support.

In order to relieve yourself of it, you’ll have to convince a court that modification of the existing order in necessary. Although a decrease in your income, the onset of a medical condition, or your former spouse’s acquisition of adequate employment may all be sound justifications for a modification, some are left wondering whether a former spouse’s cohabitation is enough to terminate a spousal support obligation.

How Arizona views cohabitation in light of a spousal support order

Although the law is ever-changing, as it stands right now, cohabitation in and of itself is insufficient to cease a support order. This is because Arizona law doesn’t identify cohabitation as a justification to cease alimony.

In fact, there’s one case where a woman who was receiving spousal support started living with her significant other with the intent to get divorced. Once she found out that the new marriage would cease her support obligation, she called off the marriage. There, the court found that the cohabitation itself was not enough to warrant cessation of the existing alimony order despite the surrounding circumstances.

How can you use cohabitation to your advantage?

If you want to have a shot at bringing your spousal support obligation to a stop, you not only need to prove cohabitation but also financial support. The two often go hand in hand, but it’s best to assume that the court isn’t going to make any presumptions in your favor.

But how do you prove these aspects in your case? You can start by doing the following:

  • Scour social media: Your former spouse might write or post pictures that make it apparent that are in a new relationship. It might even show that they’re receiving significant financial support from their new love interest. Just make sure you’re capturing screen shots of anything that you think might be helpful to your case.
  • Talk to neighbors: These individuals might be able to provide some insight into where your spouse is staying and who, if anyone, is staying with them.
  • Research: You might be able to get your hands on public records that show who is paying for certain aspects of your former spouse’s life. You can also demand, through legal avenues, that your former spouse answer questions about how they’re supporting themselves.
  • Consider a private investigator: To get to the truth of the matter, you’re probably going to have to dig deeply. But if you do that on your own, you might find yourself on the receiving end of allegations of harassment or even stalking. To prevent that from happening, you might want to turn to an investigator to help you figure out what you need to know.

Be ready to fight to protect your financial interests

Cohabitation is a developing area of Arizona family law. While this means that there’s a bit of uncertainty, it also means that there’s a lot of opportunity. With that in mind, you shouldn’t back down from a fight if it’s to obtain a fair and just outcome.

Of course, given the emotional aspects of these sorts of disputes, they can quickly become escalated. If you want to ensure that you’re positioning yourself fully for success, you might want to think about reaching out to a legal professional for help. Hopefully you can find a way to rid yourself of a legal obligation that has become unfair under the circumstances.