Texas Law on Spousal Support Co-Habitation: Does It Terminate Alimony?

Understanding Spousal Support in Texas

In the state of Texas, spousal support, commonly referred to as alimony, is financial assistance that one spouse may be legally obligated to provide to the other following a divorce. Designed to ensure the lower-earning or non-earning spouse can maintain a reasonable standard of living, spousal support is not automatically granted but determined based on a variety of factors such as the length of the marriage, earning capacities, and the resources available to each party.

The Impact of Cohabitation on Alimony in Texas

One frequently asked question regarding alimony is whether it terminates when the recipient begins cohabitating with a new partner. In Texas, there are specific statutes that address this concern. According to Texas Family Code § 8.056, spousal support may be modified or terminated upon the cohabitation of the receiving party.

Cohabitation in this context refers to living with another person in a romantic or intimate relationship. The law assumes that by living with a new partner, the financial needs of the alimony recipient have changed, potentially reducing or eliminating the need for continued support from their former spouse.

Proving Cohabitation to Terminate Alimony

For the paying spouse to terminate alimony on grounds of cohabitation, they must file a motion with the court and provide evidence of the recipient's cohabitation status. This evidence can include shared living expenses, a joint lease or mortgage, recognition of the relationship in public forums, and other indicators of a mutually supportive and intimate relationship.

Once presented with sufficient proof, the court will evaluate if the cohabitation justifies an alteration or cessation of spousal support. It is important to note that occasional overnight visits or casual dating relationships typically do not meet the threshold for cohabitation as defined by Texas law.

Case Law and Historical References

Historical cases such as Poe v. Poe have set precedents in Texas for what constitutes cohabitation and how it affects spousal support agreements. In this landmark case, evidence was provided that showed not only a shared residence but also a combination of finances and public acknowledgment as a couple, which led to the termination of spousal support.

However, each case in Texas is unique, with courts considering various factors before making a decision on whether cohabitation has occurred and if it should affect alimony payments.

Seeking Legal Advice

If you are seeking to modify or terminate alimony in Texas due to cohabitation or are defending against such an action, it is crucial to seek legal advice. An experienced family law attorney can guide you through the process and help gather necessary evidence to present your case effectively before the court.