Romantic Partner or a Roommate – Will Either Affect Alimony Payments?
While having a romantic partner will not automatically terminate your alimony, living as a married couple will. After alimony is awarded in a divorce, there are several factors that can impact the amount or duration of spousal support.
How is Alimony Awarded in Louisiana?
Alimony in Louisiana is court-ordered spousal support. Under the law, alimony can be temporary or permanent.
Temporary alimony is usually awarded during the divorce process if a spouse is not financially self-supporting. Factors that the judge will consider for temporary spousal support include the following:
- The standard of living during the marriage
- The individual financial means of both spouses
- If the higher-earning spouse afford alimony
- If the lower-earning spouse stayed home to raise children, losing valuable job skills and career opportunities
- The age and overall health of the spouses
- The length of time the spouses were married
After the divorce process, a lower-earning spouse may be awarded periodic or permanent alimony. Periodic alimony is the most commonly awarded spousal support in the state. Typically, periodic alimony is awarded under the following circumstances:
- The supported spouse needs time to become self-sufficient
- The supported spouse is still of working age with time to earn skills and training
- If the supported spouse gave up job opportunities to stay home for the paying spouse or their children
In rare instances, a court may award permanent alimony in cases where:
- The supported spouse is disabled
- The supported spouse is at an advanced age or in poor health
However, court-awarded alimony can be challenged and terminated for various reasons.
Will Moving in with a Romantic Partner Automatically End Spousal Support?
Moving in with a romantic partner may end spousal support in Louisiana. Alimony usually ends when a supported spouse remarries. The concept is that the ex-spouse will now be financially supported in their new marriage. However, moving in with a romantic partner may also qualify for the termination of spousal support.
A paying spouse can petition the court to end alimony early if their former spouse is involved in a marriage-like situation. Living with a romantic partner may meet the criteria for a marriage-like situation when:
- Their respective finances are combined
- The nature of the activities both share
- If the partners share vacations and holidays together
- Sharing household responsibilities beyond that of a roommate
- Striving to meet the needs of the other
- Sharing a bedroom
- Sharing romantic feelings and acts
A judge has discretion when awarding or terminating alimony in most circumstances. If the court does not end spousal support due to a new romantic partner, they may modify the agreement.
Spousal support is derived from financial necessity. If a new romantic relationship eases the need for financial support, a judge may grant a reduction in monthly payments.
Can Having a Platonic Roommate Affect Alimony Payments?
Living with a platonic roommate does not affect alimony payments in Louisiana. A platonic relationship does not meet the criteria of a “marriage-like” situation to qualify for the termination of spousal support.
However, a paying ex-spouse may petition the court to end alimony if they suspect a spouse is living with a person who is more than a roommate. Cohabitation cases can be complex and difficult to prove. Challenging alimony payments involve very nuanced laws.
For example, one complicated case arose in New Jersey. The supported spouse had a romantic partner who did not expressly live at the residence. However, upon investigation, the romantic partner spent the majority of the time at the supported spouse’s residence.
How Cohabitation Has Affected Alimony in the Past
Referred to as The Quinn Case, the courts ruled in favor of the paying ex-spouse and terminated alimony. During the trial of David Quinn and Cathleen Quinn, cohabitation and how it can affect spousal support were argued.
Cathleen Quinn had agreed in the spouse’s divorce settlement that alimony would end upon David Quinn’s death, her death, her remarriage, or her cohabitation with another. Two years after they divorced, Cathleen was in a committed relationship with another man. David petitioned the court to end alimony payments.
During the 11-month trial, the court found that Cathleen and her romantic partner met all the qualifications of a cohabiting couple. To complicate matters further, Cathleen and her romantic partner ceased cohabitating during the course of the trial. The judge upheld that alimony payments should cease during the period of cohabitation. However, once the cohabitation ceased, alimony was reinstated.
A trial court found a different solution and reversed the previous judge’s ruling. Instead, the trial court held that Cathleen had agreed to end alimony once she cohabitated with another. When it was determined that her new romantic partner had lived together for at least 28 months, it released David of any spousal support obligation.
What Will End Alimony in Louisiana?
There are a few circumstances that will allow a paying spouse to terminate paying alimony early in Louisiana. As stated above, alimony may be terminated if a supported ex-spouse remarries or cohabitates with a romantic partner in a marriage-like situation. However, other situations may qualify for early termination, including:
- If the supported spouse has a dramatic increase in income
- If the supported spouse becomes financially self-sufficient
- If the paying spouse experiences extreme economic hardship due to alimony payments
- If the supported spouse is intentionally avoiding becoming self-sufficient (e.g., avoiding job opportunities, refusing to seek gainful employment, avoiding remarriage solely due to alimony)
- Discovering the supported spouse deliberately hid assets, income, or other property
In addition, paying spouses may be able to end alimony during retirement. In order to petition the court to approve ending spousal support, the retiring spouse must meet one of the following criteria:
- They were forced to retire by their employer
- They have health problems that may interfere with alimony payments
- If their decision to retire was intentionally meant to terminate alimony payments
- How much has already been paid to the receiving spouse
- They are of advanced age and well past the age of retirement
Spousal support is one of the most highly contentious subjects during and after divorce. If you are experiencing legal matters concerning alimony payments, please seek a qualified alimony attorney in Louisiana by calling at 504-780-8232 or contact us online.