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Cohabitation and Divorce

I was recently talking to a friend about his alimony situation. My friend is obligated to pay a significant sum of alimony on a monthly basis to his ex-wife. He mentioned to me that his wife now has a boyfriend who she has been living with for a substantial period of time. I advised that cohabitation would not be a mechanism for termination of alimony as would remarriage. The court in Watson v. Watson decided that a de facto marriage interpretation could not be sustained in a state that doesn't recognize common law marriage.

However, despite the clear language in Watson, there may be other case law which suggest that, although cohabitation isn't grounds for termination of alimony, other factors may allow for modification. In Gilman v. Gilman 114 Nev. 416 the husband argued for termination or modification of his alimony based on his ex-wife's cohabitation. The Supreme Court denied his request but noted that the new boyfriend had not significantly contributed to the wife's support. The Supreme Court went on to adopt the economic needs test. Pursuant to this needs test, the court will look at what financial effects the cohabitation may have on reducing a payee spouse's needs. However the court stated that shared living arrangements, unaccompanied by evidence of a decrease in actual financial need, are generally insufficient for modification.