Spousal Maintenance When Your Ex Has a New Partner

new partner, DuPage County family law attorneyWhen you are required to pay alimony—also known as spousal maintenance under Illinois law—your payments are intended to help your former spouse alleviate some of the financial impact of the divorce. To a certain extent, maintenance is also used to help an economically disadvantaged spouse retain a semblance of the lifestyle the two of you enjoyed during your marriage. But, what happens when your spouse meets someone new? Could his or her new relationship affect your requirements for continuing spousal support payments?

An order for spousal maintenance is typically set for a specific number of months or years. Alternatively, the payments may be ordered to continue on a permanent basis. “Permanent,” however, only means that there is no date set on which the order will be terminated. It does mean that the payments will continue forever no matter what. There are certain factors or occurrences that could allow you to stop paying maintenance to your ex-spouse despite a permanent award.

Standard of Living

One of the factors that the court will consider when awarding spousal maintenance is the standard of living that was established during the marriage. Depending on how long you were married and how accustomed you and your spouse became with your standard of living, you may be ordered to help your former partner maintain some level of that standard after your divorce. For example, if you and your spouse enjoyed an upper-middle-class lifestyle with two newer vehicles and a spacious home in the suburbs, your divorce should not force either of you into a shabby apartment in the inner city, relying on welfare or state services. This is exactly the type situation that spousal maintenance is intended to prevent.

A New Flame

At some point in the future, you may consider dating again after your divorce. The same is true for your ex-spouse. He or she is free to pursue happiness however he or she sees fit, including through a new romantic relationship. Your ex’s new love interest does not affect your obligation to pay support in most cases. There are, however, two exceptions. Your support obligation terminates if and when your spouse:

  • Gets remarried; or
  • Moves in with a new partner on a “resident, continuing conjugal basis.”

The second exception does not apply to traditional roommates or a situation in which two people are sharing a home but maintaining independent lives. It refers to a cohabitation arrangement in which your ex and his or her new partner are living together and acting essentially as a married couple, with shared finances and a shared lifestyle. At that point, you would be no longer required to continue providing support.

Call for Help

If your former spouse has moved in with a new partner and you would like to have your maintenance order officially terminated, contact an experienced DuPage County family law attorney. We will help you complete the process quickly and with minimal stress. Call [[phone]] for a confidential consultation at the Law Office of Matthew M. Williams, P.C. today.




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