It may be uncomfortable, but it is worthwhile to keep up with your ex after a divorce — especially if paying alimony. Some types of alimony can be terminated if your ex is cohabiting with someone.
This “someone” does not necessarily have to be a romantic partner. Also, regular sleepovers may be considered “cohabiting,” so it is important to speak with an attorney as soon as you have a hint that something has changed.
Be alert to gather evidence as it is available. Get creative. An attorney can walk you through what to be on the lookout for post divorce.
For instance, either you or a mutual “friend” should regularly check your ex’s Facebook and be ready to screenshot and/or print pictures. It is important to do that as you go because once your ex becomes aware that alimony may be terminated, she may become more careful and less forthcoming.
Sometimes, you will learn information directly from your ex. Simply keeping up a cordial relationship may mean she gives you information. Any information will alert you to dig a little deeper. Eventually, it may be worthwhile to hire a private investigator. An experienced attorney in your area can walk you through the cost/benefit.
It is very important that you discuss cohabitation issues or any other terms that might end a maintenance (alimony / spousal support) obligation early with a local attorney in your area to better understand your options.
For instance, in Colorado, cohabitation will not end a maintenance obligation; only your ex-spouse’s remarriage will sever the support order. Even in the case of remarriage, the obligation is not necessarily automatically severed – it depends on how your agreements and /or orders regarding the support issue are written.
Never assume that because your ex-spouse is involved in another relationship that your obligation automatically ends. It is much better to be cautious, speak with an attorney regarding your options and then act accordingly.
A simple – yet not inexpensive – way to prove that your wife is cohabitating is to hire a private investigator, or PI.
A PI can document the comings and goings of your ex, as well as anyone who resides or appears to reside with her. It is telling for a car, driven by a male, to be parked outside of an ex’s residence for long durations during the late evening and morning hours.
With hiring a PI there is a cost involved, but it could certainly save you thousands in the long run as well as stalking / harassment charges or Domestic Violence Protective Orders should you decide to undertake surveillance yourself and are caught.
In Wisconsin, the standard language in marital settlement agreements is that maintenance shall terminate upon the death of either party or the remarriage of the recipient spouse.
Sometimes, we reach agreements whereby wife will agree to language that also says, “or in the event that wife enters into a marriage-like relationship.”
Whether the wife has entered into a marriage-like relationship can be very difficult to prove, and usually involves first filing a motion to modify the existing maintenance order and then conducting formal discovery to obtain information about the nature of the wife’s relationship.
Discovery can reveal whether she and the person she’s cohabitating with are sharing income, whether that person is contributing to household expenses, etc.
In particularly difficult cases, a private investigator may need to be hired if wife is denying that her significant other is living with her. In Wisconsin, cohabitation is not automatic grounds for maintenance termination, we have to be able to show that the person wife is cohabitating with is helping to support her/sharing household expenses.
Two fairly inexpensive and easy ways of proving a spouse is cohabitating are filing a public records request and using the power of the subpoena.
Public Records Request — I typically make records request for the address in question from all law enforcement agencies in that jurisdiction.
It provides me not only with the names of persons who have listed that address as their residence, but also provides me with details for any police involvement at the address or involving persons who live at that address.
Subpoena — I also issue a subpoena to the utility companies servicing the address, the landlord and any banks with a mortgage on the property requesting not only the leasing statements, closing statements and loan applications, but also any checks or documents which show the person making payments to them for the address.
This usually will show any person who is contributing to paying bills and also the person(s) who is / are listed as residing there.
In Ohio, men have to prove cohabitation of their former spouse, but the cohabitation also has to be of a “marital” nature. This means men have to prove that former spouse has more than a roommate.
Some of the best and easiest ways to prove this is through social media. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are great places to start. It is surprising what you can find without too much trouble.
The next step is to ask for lease agreements, deeds and bank statements.
In Colorado, alimony (often referred to as spousal maintenance) does not necessarily end because the opposite sex is cohabiting. The ex husband would need to show a change in circumstances coupled with economic consequences.
For example, he would need to show that his ex is permanently living with someone else, not just occasionally staying overnight. He would also need to show that she is receiving an economic benefit from the co-habitation, such as help with bills, groceries or house payments.
A good fact gathering method is to monitor social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter. Look for postings, pictures, messages and comments that confirm cohabitation.
Also, look for changes in your ex’s financial habits. If suddenly large purchases are being made or she is taking expensive vacations, this may be evidence that she has more “play money” since someone else is helping with monthly expenses.