Information Regarding Connecticut Cohabitation And Alimony

When a court enters an award of periodic alimony, or the parties to a separation agreement include a provision for payment of alimony to one spouse, family law attorneys generally include the following language: "Alimony shall terminate upon the first of the following to occur: the death of either party, remarriage of the [recipient] or cohabitation by the [recipient] pursuant to the provisions of Conn. Gen. Stat. 46b-86(c)" after a hearing.

The first prong of Conn. Gen. Stat. 46b-86(c) mandates that the paying party must prove that the party receiving periodic alimony is living with another person. The second prong mandates that the paying party must prove that the receiving party's financial circumstances have been altered by the living arrangement and his or her needs have decreased as a result of living together.

Connecticut case law has different interpretations for judgments that refer to the cohabitation statute and those that do not. The Appellate and Supreme Courts have found that where a separation agreement did not reference Conn. Gen. Stat. §46b-86(b), alimony was properly terminated without consideration of the alteration on the financial circumstances of the alimony recipient. When the judgment references the cohabitation statute, the court must then analyze whether the financial circumstances of the recipient have been altered by living with the cohabitant.

If the court determines that the recipient spouse has not benefited from the cohabitation arrangement financially and still needs the alimony, the court must allow the alimony order to stand.

In a case where the sole judgment or separation agreement references termination of alimony without reference to the statute, there is no need to prove that the receiving spouse has experienced a change in financial circumstances. The fact of cohabitation, alone, suffices to end the alimony.

It is interesting to note that §46b-86(b) itself has been modified effective October 1, 2013, to include the following language:

"In the event that a final judgment incorporates a provision in which the parties agree to circumstances other than those as provided in this subsection, under which alimony will be modified, including suspension, reduction or termination of alimony, the court shall enforce the provision of such agreement and enter orders in accordance therewith."

The case law has been codified to limit application of the second prong of the statute to cases that mention the statute. Therefore, careful preparation of the separation agreement is essential. A missing reference to the cohabitation statute can be fatal to a cohabitating spouse.

Contact Our Law Firm To Learn More

Any questions concerning application of alimony in our state should be addressed to a licensed Connecticut lawyer. Contact the law firm of Verna B. Lilburn, in New Haven, to learn more by calling 203-309-0717. We routinely represent individuals in Hamden and other areas across south central Connecticut.