The Effect Living with Someone May Have on Your Spousal Support
Orange County Family Law Lawyers Explain Your Rights
DISCLAIMER: The following is not meant to be legal advice. It offers alternatives,
tips, and resources for those with no means to hire an attorney. For a
more thorough explanation of spousal support, please review the applicable
sections in the California Family Code and the California Rules of Court.
If you are a party receiving
spousal support, it is important for you to understand how your actions could affect the
amount of spousal support to which you are entitled. One such action is
moving in with someone. If the court considers your living with someone
“cohabitating” within the meaning of the
Family Code, or you are receiving a significant financial contribution from the person
you have moved in with, it could result in a downward
modification of your spousal support. These two situations will be discussed in greater detail below.
The Effects of §4323 Cohabitation
California Family Code §4323 states that there is a rebuttable presumption, affecting the
burden of proof, of decreased need for spousal support if the supported
party is cohabitating with a non-marital partner. The court in
In re Marriage of Denney (1981) 115 Cal. App. 3d 543 held that the burden is on the supporting
party to establish that there is cohabitation. [Id at 556.] If this is established, the burden then shifts to the supported
party to present evidence to overcome the presumption that the need for
support has decreased. [Ibid.] What this means is that if the supporting party is able to establish
that you are cohabitating with a non-marital partner, the court will require
you to prove that you do not have a decreased need for support. If you
are unable to do so, the court will adjust your spousal support to match
your new level of need.
It is important to note, however, that cohabitation within the purview of
Family Code §4323 does not mean simply living with someone. This section is not
meant to apply to a typical “roommate” or “boarder”
scenario. Cohabitating is meant to apply to individuals living together
who are involved in a sexual relationship, a romantic involvement, or
a homemaker-companion relationship.
The Effects of Receiving Financial Contributions
California Family Code §4323 does not apply to your present living situation, your spousal
support order may still be modified. Although having a roommate or boarder
may not qualify as cohabitation, depending on the financial relationship
that exists between you, the court may still adjust your spousal support.
If, for example, you receive significant financial contributions from
the person you are living with, the court may determine that you have
a decreased need for support.