Though alimony, or spousal support, is far less common than it was a quarter of a century ago, there are still many circumstances where the court will order temporary, or even permanent, payment of support from one spouse to another. Typically, however, the alimony order contains a stipulation that terminates the obligation to pay alimony if the recipient remarries. The provision can also apply if the beneficiary is found to be cohabitating with another person in an intimate relationship.
It’s important to understand, though, that it’s not necessary to have such a provision in a divorce decree for the law to be applied. In fact, Pennsylvania law is clear that, when a person enters into cohabitation with a person of the opposite sex who is not a family member, an alimony order can be terminated. The law does not specify a length of time for the cohabitation to render a spousal support order invalid. Instead, the Pennsylvania Superior Court has ruled that cohabitation will be decided on a case-by-case basis, looking at all evidence of “financial, social and sexual interdependence.”
Alimony is a discretionary award in Pennsylvania, with the court looking at a variety of factors, including age and health of the parties, income potential, standard of living, and relative needs of the parties, all in an effort to bring about a result that is fair. When one spouse, typically the lower earning spouse, must try to survive on her or his own, the courts are more inclined to see it as fair to expect the other party to defray some of those expenses. However, if the party receiving alimony chooses to cohabitate with another person, it can be assumed that there will be additional income and the spousal support is no longer necessary or fair.
At the office of Joanne E. Kleiner & Associates, we have more than 25 years of family law experience. We’ll help you stay focused on what matters. To schedule an appointment with an experienced Pennsylvania divorce attorney, contact our office online or call us at 215-886-1266.