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If My Ex Moves Back in with Her Parents, Does She Keep Receiving Alimony?

Spouses may encounter serious financial issues after a divorce. The statistics clearly show that women are more likely to suffer economic pressures in the years following a divorce. While men may take an initial financial hit after a divorce, they are more likely to recover over the next few years and establish greater wealth. In the modern era, many people well into their 30s or even 40s choose to move in with their parents. Often, they do this after encountering financial difficulties, including those commonly associated with a divorce.

What happens if your ex chooses to move back in with their parents? Does this mean that you will stop paying alimony? This is a relatively common question in North Carolina today. Perhaps the best way to answer it is to book a consultation with divorce lawyers such as Arnold & Smith, PLLC. During this initial meeting, you can discuss your specific situation and receive targeted advice.

The Definition of Cohabitation

When a spouse starts living with someone else after a divorce, it may lead to the cessation of spousal support. But spousal support only ceases if this relationship falls under the specific definition of “cohabitation” according to North Carolina law. Generally speaking, cohabitation is defined as a romantic relationship between two people. The relationship can be between same-sex partners or different-sex partners, and it does not need to be “solemnized by marriage.” For the most part, this relationship must take on the general characteristics of a marriage, even if it is not formally defined as such.

There have been many instances in which North Carolina courts decided that spousal support should continue even when spouses begin living with someone else. For example, a wife’s new boyfriend might start sleeping over numerous times per week, but this does not necessarily fall into the category of cohabitation. Small details may play a central role in this decision, such as whether the couple keeps personal items and clothes at one home. In Setzler v. Setzler, a man started paying the living expenses of a recently divorced woman. However, this was not considered cohabitation because the pair maintained separate homes, and the divorced woman repaid the man after receiving her settlement.

So, what about living with one’s parents? As you can see, the definition of cohabitation is specific, and it pertains to a very particular living situation between romantic couples. There is no mention of parents in this definition, and this issue is not addressed anywhere else in North Carolina law. Therefore, one can assume that if a spouse moves back in with their parents after a divorce, they will continue receiving alimony as if they were living independently.

One has to remember that it would be difficult to prove the extent to which the parents are supporting the divorced spouse. The parents could argue that they have an informal rent agreement with their adult child. They might even state that the adult child is earning their keep by doing chores around the house. Theoretically, the adult child could live with their parents without seeking a new job or making an effort to become financially independent, all while receiving regular alimony payments.

This might seem unfair, as spousal support is supposed to serve as a safety net for spouses who are genuinely in danger of becoming destitute. That being said, one has to remember that if the spouse is young enough to move back in with their parents, there is a strong chance that the marriage did not last very long. Short-duration marriages are associated with spousal support payments that expire after a few years, so paying spouses will not have to deal with this potentially unfair situation for very long. For more information on how to reduce or eliminate spousal support, be sure to consult with a divorce attorney in North Carolina.

Where Can I Find an Experienced Divorce Attorney in North Carolina?

If you are searching for a qualified divorce attorney in North Carolina, look no further than Arnold & Smith, PLLC. Over the years, we have helped numerous divorcing spouses in the Tar Heel State. We know that alimony is a key issue for many paying spouses, and it always makes sense to modify your alimony agreement if you feel that your ex is no longer financially independent. The best way to approach this situation is to get in touch, book a consultation, and discuss your unique situation alongside divorce attorneys in North Carolina. Reach out today to get started.