Terminating an Order for Spousal Support
If you have been ordered to pay alimony—legally known as maintenance in Illinois—your payments are meant to ease the financial effects of the divorce on your ex-spouse. A court may also order maintenance to allow a financially disadvantaged spouse to maintain a standard of living reasonably similar to that which you both enjoyed during your marriage—especially if yours has not markedly changed. In the years that follow your divorce, however, your spouse may find a new romantic partner and begin a relationship. Depending on the nature of that relationship, your obligation for spousal support payments may be affected.
Duration of Support Orders
Most orders for spousal maintenance are set for a predetermined number of months or years. The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act provides a formula for calculating the length of the order as a function of the length of the marriage to be used in most situations. Longer marriages result in relatively longer orders for maintenance, and some cases may result in permanent orders. While Illinois law does use the word “permanent,” it is not an ironclad guarantee that payments must continue until one spouse dies. There are certain occurrences that could permit you to stop making maintenance payments in spite of a permanent order.
A New Partner
While you are paying maintenance, both you and your ex-spouse are free to pursue happiness as you each see fit, including new romantic relationships. In most situations, your former spouse’s new flame will have no impact on your support obligation. There are two major exceptions, however. One is very obvious and easy to determine, while the other may be more subjective. Your obligation to make support payments will be terminated if your spouse:
- Marries his or her new partner; or
- Shares a home with the new partner on a “resident, continuing conjugal basis.”
If your former spouse remarries, the marriage becomes a matter of public record and is easily proven. Cohabitation, as described by the law, is not so easy. Illinois courts do not apply this definition to traditional roommates or housemate situations in which two or more people may share a home but maintain their own separate lives. Your spouse could share a home with his or her new partner and not be considered cohabiting for the purposes of your support order. If, however, your ex and his or her partner are living together, sharing finances, and behaving essentially as a married couple, your obligation may be terminated.
Call Us for Help
If your former spouse will soon be moving in with a new partner and you would like to know more about your legal options regarding your maintenance order, contact an experienced Kane County family law attorney. Call 630-549-0960 for a confidential consultation at MKFM Law today.