Termination of Spousal Support: Remarriage and Other Factors
The purpose of spousal maintenance is to provide one partner with the financial means to support himself or herself according to a reasonable standard of living after a divorce. The award of alimony to one spouse is subject to modification based upon a variety of factors; however, the Illinois statute is clear on the circumstances that will terminate support:
- The death of either former spouse;
- Remarriage of the recipient party; or
- Cohabitation by the recipient party.
While the first two situations are straightforward, the cohabitation factor can be slightly tricky. It is necessary to take a close look at complicated statutory language and review case law, so you will need an experienced spousal maintenance attorney to assist with your situation.
Cohabitation Factors That Terminate Maintenance
The Illinois statute states that the person paying spousal support is relieved of the obligation if the alimony recipient cohabitates with another individual in a “resident, continuing, conjugal” environment. The “conjugal” element, for many years, was assumed to involve a sexual relationship between two individuals, but the Illinois Supreme Court clarified the issue in a 1985 case. The term is Latin for a husband-wife relationship, rather than a sexual relationship. The justices found that people can be cohabitating on a conjugal basis without any sexual conduct, and that cohabitation should refer to the general meaning of living together as a married couple.
Tests for Living as a Married Couple
The Illinois Supreme Court did not provide much guidance on determining whether a couple lives together in a marital relationship for purposes of terminating spousal maintenance. As a result, cohabitation issues arose in many cases over the years that followed the 1985 decision—with various findings that do not point to any one true test. Finally, in 2015, the court determined that analysis of the totality of the circumstances is necessary, including such factors as:
- How long the cohabitants have been in a relationship;
- The time they spend together;
- The type of activities they engage in together;
- The interconnected nature of financial and personal affairs;
- Whether they spend holidays together;
- Whether they vacation together; and
- Any other facts in the case that evidence a marital relationship.
You Can Trust a Skilled Illinois Divorce Lawyer
Both the statutory language and case law are complicated under Illinois divorce law, and a deep understanding of these legal resources is essential in a dispute over terminating spousal maintenance. An experienced attorney can apply these legal concepts to the unique facts in your case and advise you on your options, whether you are the recipient party or person paying alimony. If you have questions about spousal maintenance, please contact the Davi Law Group, LLC. Our dedicated DuPage County family law lawyers have assisted many clients with alimony disputes and can schedule a consultation to discuss your matter in more detail.