Sunday, July 24, 2011

Cohabitation and Spousal Support (“Alimony”)

It is prudent to add a provision to your final Decree of Divorce to include a “cohabitation” order regarding an award of spousal support (“alimony”). Such provisions may be worded:


IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that spousal support shall terminate upon Wife’s remarriage, death or cohabitation with an adult male in an economic sharing relationship. The court shall retain jurisdiction to modify the amount and duration of the spousal support award.


IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that spousal support shall terminate upon Husband’s remarriage, death or cohabitation with an adult female in an economic sharing relationship. The court shall retain jurisdiction to modify the amount and duration of the spousal support award.

The Ohio Supreme Court in State v. Williams (1997), 79 Ohio St. 3d 459; 1997 Ohio 79; 683 N.E.2d 1126; 1997 Ohio LEXIS 2423, set out what constitutes cohabitation:
The essential elements of "cohabitation" are (1) sharing of familial or financial responsibilities and (2) consortium.

The Court listed several factors that would tend to establish shared familial or financial responsibilities. They are: "provisions for shelter, food, clothing, utilities, and/or commingled assets." [Some examples include: bill sharing (utility, cable, internet, etc.); joint ownership of property (deeds, titles); persons named on common lease; co-debtors listed on loan document; joint savings; etc.] 

Additionally, the Court listed several factors that might establish consortium, which are: "mutual respect, fidelity, affection, society, cooperation, solace, comfort, aid of each other, friendship, and conjugal relations."

Just because persons are living together under the same roof does not constitute legal cohabitation under Ohio law. The above factors must be shown. Once demonstrated you may receive a post decree court order for termination of spousal support, as long as your final decree provided for the termination.

The above information is not offered as, and does not constitute, legal advice. The information presumes you are not currently represented by an attorney who knows your specific circumstances.


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  5. Does having a child with a live in boyfriend, who also has legally changed his address to ex-wifes address, buys groceries for household, maintains household upkeep, and known within family and friends as a couple, constitute cohabitation?

  6. If a boyfriend and girlfriend stay only a few nights a week together and do not share any expenses, can alimony be terminated in Ohio?

  7. My decree states my spousal support will terminate if i cohabitate,but isn't phrased as specifically as above. After 5 years divorced im now on a relationship and my boyfriend spends most nights at my home and he still maintains his own home. He doesn't contribute to my household bills or mortgage, or use my mailing addrrss, but we do grocery shop together and of course socialize together. Am I in jeopardy of losing my support?

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