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Cohabitation can affect spousal support in Minnesota

In the past, this blog has discussed what factors a Minnesota court may consider when awarding alimony. However, a law that took effect on August 1, 2016 may limit the circumstances in which an ex-spouse can receive spousal support if he or she cohabitates with another adult.

Under Minnesota law, an award of spousal maintenance may be modified if the spouse receiving alimony cohabitates with another adult after their marriage has been dissolved. This means the alimony award could be reduced, suspended or even terminated.

In determining whether any of these actions should be taken, the court will consider a number of factors. One factor is whether the spouse receiving maintenance would marry the individual he or she is cohabitating with but for the award of spousal maintenance. Any economic benefits the individual receiving maintenance derives from living with the other adult may also be considered, as may how long the cohabitation has gone on and how long it is expected to go on in the future. The court may also consider the economic impact the individual receiving maintenance would experience if the award for spousal support is modified and he or she ceases cohabitating with the other adult. That being said, the court cannot modify an award of spousal support based solely on the fact that the receiving spouse cohabitates with another if the receiving spouse and his or her cohabitant are legally barred from marrying.

Spousal support awards have the potential to be particularly contentious. The paying spouse may be reluctant to pay anything to their ex, while receiving spouses may feel that they are depending on such payments to make ends meet each month. In the end, though, it is important that the amount of spousal maintenance awarded after a divorce is fair to both spouses.

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