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Texas Spousal Support – Cohabitation Laws in Texas

Spousal Support & The Cohabitation Rule in Texas

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Spousal maintenance or alimony can only be provided after conditions specified in the Texas Family Code have been met. Texas courts require that one spouse offer financial support to the other spouse after a divorce. But the recipient must qualify for the post-marital financial support.

Termination of spousal support may happen if the spouse that was receiving the support dies or gets remarried.  Financial support may also be terminated if the recipient shares a home with an intimate partner.

What counts as cohabitation?

According to Texas law, cohabitation involves two people who are romantically involved with one another living together on a regular basis. But what exactly is “regular basis”? What counts as “living together”?  This means that the cohabitations rule is open for interpretation and that comes with a number of complications.

For instance, spousal maintenance can be terminated even if an ex does not stay in the intimate partner’s home full-time.  There is no specification about the frequency of “house-sharing” that may lead to a termination.


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Where is the proof?

The idea of not having to pay any more spousal support may be attractive, but to get there the paying spouse has to provide proof.  However, the process of finding that proof could cost more than the spousal support payments the payer wants to avoid. Keep in mind that the payer may have to show that the recipient is in a “marriage-like” relationship.

That includes proving their ex’s intimacy and commingled finances with the ex’s new partner. They may also have to provide bank statements, credit bills and even shared cell phone plan. Evidence may come in the form of photographs, surveillance video or witness testimony.

The idea here is to demonstrate that the ex and the ex’s new partner are financially and socially interdependent.  The payer will need to hire a private investigator to collect all the necessary information. Private investigators are not cheap because they need a lot of resources to collect evidence.

For that reason, the payer will need a lawyer to look at the situation and determine whether the legal effort is worth it. You may not need to take the issue back to court if the duration of the maintenance is not that long or does not cause economic strain on you.

The duration and the amount of spousal support are determined by:

  • Age and health of each spouse
  • The earning potential of each spouse and their job history
  • Education and employment of each spouse
  • Ability of each spouse to survive independently

Does cohabitation end spousal support?

If the divorced parties agreed on spousal support through a Mediated Settlement Agreement, cohabiting may not affect alimony.  The family code provision does not apply to contractual agreements between the divorcing parties. It is up to the divorcing parties to include the cohabitation clause in their contractual agreement.

The court cannot terminate spousal support if the clause was not added even if there is clear evidence that the recipient is cohabiting.