When Does Alimony Stop?
A common question asked by spouses during the divorce process is “when does alimony stop?” Maintenance payments, commonly referred to as “alimony” or spousal support, typically stop on a specific date as ordered by the judge or agreed by both parties in a divorce case. The duration of maintenance can last anywhere from a few years to 20 years, or permanently, depending the facts of each case. What many spouses may not know is that maintenance payments can end early, or never be ordered at all, if certain events occur. (To learn more about how alimony is calculated, click here)
Events That Can Stop Maintenance Payments
Under Illinois Family Law, the obligation to pay maintenance generally ends upon the occurrence of one of the following events:
- The party receiving maintenance remarries
- The party receiving maintenance cohabitates with another person on a resident, continuing conjugal basis
- Either party dies
750 ILCS 5/510(c)
Moving In With a New Boyfriend or Girlfriend Can End Maintenance Payments
If the spouse who is receiving maintenance, or asking for maintenance, moves in with a new boyfriend or girlfriend, this is called cohabitation. If the court finds that the cohabitation existed on a “continuing, conjugal basis,” it will rule that maintenance will not be ordered. In determining whether a party participated in a conjugal relationship, a judge may consider the following factors:
- The length of the relationship
- Whether the couple shared a home, meals, bank accounts, or household chores
- Whether the couple split expenses such as utilities and groceries
- Whether the couple vacationed together, spent holidays and birthdays together, or exchanged holiday and birthday gifts
- Any other factors a court would find just and equitable to consider
Proving a Continuing, Conjugal Relationship
Forms of evidence that could be used to prove a conjugal relationship might include:
- Witness testimony
- Records of joint bank accounts
- Records of payment histories for utilities and other bills
- Photographs, emails, phone records, social media profiles
- Evidence gathered by a private investigator
Once the court finds that a spouse participated in a conjugal relationship, it will order that maintenance be terminated, or bar maintenance where it has not yet been ordered. It is important to note that there is no distinction between whether the party’s obligation to pay maintenance is terminated before or after maintenance is ordered. If a spouse dies during a divorce case, maintenance would not be awarded. Similarly, if a party seeking maintenance cohabitates with another person before maintenance is awarded, or before the divorce is even filed, an award of maintenance should be denied.
Some courts have also held that even though a spouse has stopped living with the other person prior to finalizing the divorce, maintenance would still be denied based on that spouse’s previous cohabitation. Once maintenance has been barred by cohabitation, it would not be revived again, with one exception. If the cohabitating spouse moves back in with his or her spouse, maintenance may still be ordered based on the parties’ attempts at reconciling the marriage.
If you or someone you know is seeking legal representation regarding maintenance or how to file for divorce in a Will County, Dupage County, or Kendall County matter, contact our family law attorneys to schedule an initial consultation at (815) 207-9570 or (815) 409-8858.
The information on this site is not legal advice. Retain an attorney licensed in the state which has jurisdiction over your matter before taking any action which affects your legal issues, legal marital status or custody arrangements, and follow the advice of your retained lawyer.