My ex-wife and the man she is living with have each posted publicly on their Facebook pages that they have been in a relationship with each other since November 2011. Also, my ex-wife sent me an email stating that she is indeed staying at his place. I say this is proof of cohabitation and I can reduce alimony without having to go back to court.
The divorce decree specifically states that alimony is reduced to $1000/month if she cohabitates. Does anyone agree with me? Do I need to return to court? Do I need an attorney?
If she is cohabitating and that is a trigger condition to reduce alimony specifically stated in the decree, then you can lower the amount of alimony without further court action. If she contests it, then you both will need to argue why she is or is not cohabitating.
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Without seeing the exact language of the divorce decree it is difficult to determine. However, as a general rule, you must return to court to have any court order modified. Before you reduce your alimony payments on your own, I recommend you speak to an experienced family attorney to assess the decree and to assist in determining the next steps.
Brian S. Karpe, Esq. (860) 242-2221 Note: This response DOES NOT constitute legal advice and therefore no specific action should be taken in reliance thereon. No attorney-client relationship is created through this response. You should speak to an licensed attorney in your state who is competent to answer your question before taking any action with regard to this question.
The answer does depend on the exact language of the Separation Agreement. CT Cohabitation Statute, can answer this better.
Some language the courts have used:
“Cohabitation is a dwelling together of man and woman in the same place in the manner of husband and wife.” Wolk v. Wolk, 191 Conn. 328, 332, 464 A.2d 780 (1983).
“As is readily apparent, the word is not inflexible nor is it one of strict or narrow meaning.” DeMaria v. DeMaria, 247 Conn. 715, 720, 724 A.2d 1088 (1999).
“In support of his first argument, the plaintiff cites the definition, adopted by our Supreme Court in Wolk v. Wolk, 191 Conn. 328, 332, 464 A.2d 780 (1983), that ‘[c]ohabitation is a dwelling together of man and woman in the same place in the manner of husband and wife.’ The plaintiff apparently interprets the phrase ‘in the manner of husband and wife’ to suggest that cohabitation is for all intents and purposes synonymous with marriage, and that cohabitation raises all of the same presumptions regarding the treatment of assets as does marriage. Such an interpretation, however, would essentially transform cohabitation into common-law marriage, contrary to the refusal of this state to recognize such relationships. See McAnerney v. McAnerney, 165 Conn. 277, 285, 334 A.2d 437 (1973) (‘[a]lthough other jurisdictions may recognize common-law marriage or accord legal consequences to informal marriage relationships, Connecticut definitely does not. . . . It follows that although two persons cohabit and conduct themselves as a married couple, our law neither grants to nor imposes upon them marital status’ [citations omitted]).
‘[C]ohabitation alone does not create any contractual relationship or, unlike marriage, impose other legal duties upon the parties.’ Boland v. Catalano, 202 Conn. 333, 339, 521 A.2d 142 (1987).” Herring v. Daniels, 70 Conn. App. 649, 655, 805 A.2d 718 (2002).
“Connecticut does not presently recognize, as valid marriages, living arrangements or informal commitments entered into in this state and loosely categorized as common law marriages. McAnerney v. McAnerney, 165 Conn. 277, 285, 334 A.2d 437 (1973); Hames v. Hames, 163 Conn. 588, 593, 316 A.2d 379 (1972); State ex rel. Felson v. Allen, 129 Conn. 427, 432, 29 A.2d 306 (1942). Only recently this rule of law has been reaffirmed. "In this jurisdiction, common law marriages are not accorded validity. . . . The rights and obligations that attend a valid marriage simply do not arise where the parties choose to cohabit outside the marital relationship." (Citations omitted.) Boland v. Catalano, 202 Conn. 333, 339, 521 A.2d 142 (1987).” Collier v. Milford , 206 Conn. 242, 248, 537 A.2d 474 (1988). (http://www.http://www.jud.ct.gov/lawlib/Notebooks/Pathfinders/CohabitationinCT/Cohabitation.htm. Retrieved April 17, 2013, http://www.jud.ct.gov/lawlib/Notebooks/Pathfinders/CohabitationinCT/Cohabitation.htm).
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