Alimony is a payment from one spouse to the other spouse that can be monthly, a lump sum, or a percentage of earnings. When alimony is on a monthly basis, the decree for alimony can state circumstances of when the alimony will terminate.
An example would be remarriage. If the spouse receiving alimony gets remarried, then the decree will typically provide that alimony is no longer required to be paid.
If the separation agreement and decree state that alimony terminates upon "cohabitation," then the definition of "cohabitation" can make all the difference based upon the specific facts of the case. Often, "cohabitation" is not defined at all, so the Court has to decide based upon its discretion whether cohabitation is taking place.
In one case, the alimony recipient had a living arrangement with her boyfriend such that they split rent, utilities, and cleaning chores evenly. The Kansas Court of Appeals held that such circumstances constituted cohabitation. In the matter of the Marriage of Knoll
52 Kan.App.2d 930, 932 (2016).
In another case, cohabitation was not defined at all in the separation agreement or decree. The alimony recipient lived with another man whom she had sexual relations with fewer than ten times in the four years they had been living together. In re Marriage of Kuzanek, 279 Kan. 156, 157 (2005). Surprisingly, the district court found no cohabitation. This decision was later affirmed by the Kansas Supreme Court.
A good family law lawyer will know how to draft a separation agreement and proposed decree so that “cohabitation” is defined in the most conservative manner, providing protection to the alimony payor during the duration stated in the decree.