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Barrister
Barrister, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
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Experience:  Attorney with 16 years experience
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What is the legal definition of cohabitation in the state of

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What is the legal definition of cohabitation in the state of Washington?
Hello and thank you for using JA! My goal is to provide you with excellent service and help with your legal problem.
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Is this in regards XXXXX XXXXX type of alimony or spousal support in a divorce situation where one ex is living with a boy/girlfriend?
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Thanks
Barrister
Customer: replied 4 years ago.


Yes! Divorced in 2006; ex "awarded" $4000/mo in alimony/spousal support, reduced by court in 2009 by half. Presiding judge in 2nd hearing had never, until that time, tried a case in family law, and I believe his ruling was flawed, as a case was presented during the hearing (virtually identical to mine) that demonstrated precedence in which NO alimony was due. Am contemplating returning to court and/or filing a motion to vacate this judge's ruling but am very concerned about spending thousand$,, to not only get nowhere, but forced to pay even more alimony.

Ok, so were you married to the other person and want to modify or extinguish the amount?
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Or are you seeking to terminate any spousal support based on the ex living with someone else now?
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Thanks
Barrister
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Have provided you with more than ample information to at least initially address this issue. Please reply.

I was waiting on the responses to my last two questions. You may not have seen them so I will post them again below:
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Ok, so were you married to the other person and want to modify or extinguish the amount?
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Or are you seeking to terminate any spousal support based on the ex living with someone else now?
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Thanks
Barrister
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Am having computer problems - will try again. Was married 38 years; ex had an affair for the last 2 years of the marriage, and upon my discovery, asked her to leave. She continued the relationship, in Feb 2006, by going to the Seattle are with him, where she remains to this day (confirmed by private detective); the condo where they currently cohabitate is vested in his name, and they share expenses and household duties, etc. For all intents and purposes, they are married. Went to court in mid-2006 to divorce the ex, who was "awarded" $4000/mo (each month paid on-time and in-full). Returned to court in mid-2009 to attempt a reduction or elimination of alimony; judge had never heard a family case (was a juvenile court magistrate) and asked virtually no relevant questions, even though a case (virtually identical to mine) was presented to him that showed ample precedent. He ruled "safely" by reducing alimony by 50%. Need to know if I should try again, spend thou$and$, with all the mental anguish, to do a crapshoot. Your help would be most appreciated! Pete.

Ok, I see your additional info. Give me a little while to research the applicable WA laws on cohabitation and see what they say about terminating support based on it.
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Thanks
Barrister
Customer: replied 4 years ago.


Thank you!!

Ok, after looking around, I don't see anything that specifically states that in WA, cohabitation is grounds for terminating spousal support. With that said, you would have to look at the actual order that awards maintenance to see if it had any language in it that specifically stated that it would terminate upon cohabitation. If it doesn't say anything at all, then I would opine that co-habitation may be grounds to terminate based on the idea that spousal support is intended for the pupose of supporting an ex until they are able to support and maintain themselves. It is not intended to be lifetime support if the ex is able to work and earn their own income to support themselves.
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Further, if she is living with somoene else and mingling their assets and essentially living as if married without a formal marriage, then it is circumventing the purpose of the support. Judges don't like that when one person is abusing the privilege of receiving support for a purpose for which it wasn't intended.
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Washington doesn't have a definition of "cohabitation" but they instead use the term "meritricious relationship". The term "meretricious relationship" is term of art in Washington, and has been defined as "a stable, marital-like relationship where both parties cohabit with knowledge that a lawful marriage between them does not exist." Connell v. Francisco, 127 Wash.2d 339, 346 (1995). There are several factors that the court will consider when determining whether or not a relationship meets the meretricious definition that are looked at on a case by case basis. These include:
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The length of the relationship
The time the parties have cohabitated continuously
The nature of the relationship
The extent to which funds and assets have been commingled
The intent of the parties in question
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With that said, I would opine that if you could convince a judge that they are essentially married without a lawful marriage, you would have a good argument to either further reduce or entirely eliminate any further spousal support.
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Thanks.

Barrister

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Please don't forget to rate my service "OK" or higher. It is only then that I receive credit for my work.

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If you need further help, just reply to me via the “REPLY” or “CONTINUE CONVERSATION” button and I will be happy to continue.

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I cannot enter into an attorney client relationship, this is a public forum, and all posts are available for public viewing. There is no duty of confidentiality that attaches to any posts. The information provided is not a substitute for a local attorney’s legal advice.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.


Thank you for your response(s)! Was having big trouble w/my computer and was unable to log on until now. Perhaps I forgot to mention ... even though my ex is cohabitating with her boyfriend in Washington State (for 7 years), the divorce was heard and granted in Indio (Riverside County), California. Does this factor have a bearing to your answer? Thanks again; I'll do your survey shortly (EXCELLENT!).

Well yes, that kind of makes everything about WA that I posted not relevant because if the divorce was in CA, CA law controls....
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The good thing is that CA has clearer laws on this. Family Code section 4323(a)(1) provides that "there is a rebuttable presumption, affecting the burden of proof, of decreased need for spousal support if the supported party is cohabiting with a person of the opposite sex...". If your former spouse is in a romantic relationship and cohabitating with that person, that may be enough to seek a reduction or even elimination of your alimony payments.
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Thanks.

Barrister

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Please don't forget to rate my service "OK" or higher. It is only then that I receive credit for my work.

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If you need further help, just reply to me via the “REPLY” or “CONTINUE CONVERSATION” button and I will be happy to continue.

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I cannot enter into an attorney client relationship, this is a public forum, and all posts are available for public viewing. There is no duty of confidentiality that attaches to any posts. The information provided is not a substitute for a local attorney’s legal advice.

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