Is there a time frame that would constitute cohabitation?

This case if for alimony modification. Respondents new partner has his own apartment that he pays for including utilities and all of his mail is delivered to his apartment and has no financial bearing or responsibilities at the residence in question. Is there a specific amount of days in a certain period of time that is allowable and not considered cohabitation and would effect future alimony payments?

Asked on July 13, 2012 under Family Law, California


Cameron Norris, Esq. / Law Office of Gary W. Norris

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

I am guessing that you are looking to use California Family Code Section 4323, which describes a rebuttable presumption of a decreased need for support when the former spouse is "cohabiting." 

There is no black and white definition of what cohabiting means.  Most judges use the plain meaning of sharing a household.  To be cohabiting a couple must be sharing expenses and having a relationship.  See In re Marriage of Thweatt (1979) 96 Cal.App.3d 530 (finding that cohabitation requires more than expense sharing, but also a sexual or romantic relationship).  Also see In re Marriage of Regnery (1989) 214 Cal.App.3d 1367; In re Marriage of Lieb (1978) 80 Cal.App.3d 629.

One thing to remember is that even if you prove cohabitation--there is only a decreased need for support in relation to the amount of the expenses shouldered by the cohabitant--it isn't grounds for wiping out the support order or anything.

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