It is becoming more common and socially acceptable these days for unmarried couples to live together. While this generally does not pose much of an issue in a couple's daily lives, cohabitation could have a significant impact on them if one partner is receiving spousal support from a previous marriage.
Under California law, when a spouse receiving spousal support begins cohabitating with a partner he or she is not married to, it is possible that a modification or termination of the spousal support could be ordered by the court if the court determines that the receiving spouse's circumstances have changed. There is a rebuttable presumption that cohabitation decreases the receiving spouse's need for spousal support.
Cohabitation can occur between the receiving spouse and a nonmarital partner, even if the parties do not hold themselves out to the public as being married. Moreover, if the paying spouse subsequently marries or enters a romantic relationship, the income of the supporting spouse's partner will not be taken into consideration when it comes to a spousal support modification.
So, if a person is receiving spousal support after a divorce, they may want to keep in mind that if they cohabitate with a new romantic partner their ex-spouse could pursue a modification or termination of spousal support. Since some people will find that the modification or termination of spousal support based on cohabitation could have a major impact on their financial well-being, they may want to consider their legal options for retaining their spousal support payments. And, conversely, if a person is paying spousal support to an ex-spouse and learns that their ex-spouse is cohabitating with another individual, that person may want to determine what their legal rights are with regards to reducing or ending spousal support payments.