The decision to award spousal maintenance following a divorce is one that must be considered very carefully by the court. Sometimes called alimony or spousal support, maintenance is used to lessen the financial impact of the dissolution, and to provide a measure of security for the future. The law in Illinois—and therefore the courts—presume that, if you are awarded maintenance, it should only continue as long as the need for it still exists.
When you are receiving spousal support, you probably have some idea of how long the order is scheduled to remain in effect. It may be intended to last a number of years, or indefinitely if you were married for a long time. However, what you may not realize is that the applicable law in Illinois includes provisions that allow maintenance to be terminated early. According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, an order for maintenance may be terminated upon the death of either party, which, of course, is reasonable enough. It also specifies that your support may be ended if you get remarried. Finally, it permits the termination of your maintenance if you cohabit “with another person on a resident, continuing conjugal basis.”
Not Just Roommates
So the real issue then becomes what exactly “resident, continuing conjugal basis means.” Does is simply mean you spend several nights a week with a new romantic partner? What about moving in with a roommate? While the actual law itself does not provide a great deal of clarification, case law around the state has set a precedent for terminating maintenance because of cohabitation....