In Maryland alimony terminates, unless the parties agree otherwise, upon any of the following four events: (1) death of either party (2) the date specified by the court (rehabilitative alimony) (3) upon remarriage spose receiving alimony or (4) if the Court finds termination is necessary in order to avoid an inequitable result. Maryland Code, Family Law § 11-108.
Many clients ask if cohabitating with a new partner is the same as re-marriage for the purposes of termination of alimony. The answer is no, unless the parties agree otherwise (via a separation agreement). However, this does not mean that the paying ex-spouse can not seek a modification based upon the marriage type relationship. According to the Maryland Court of Appeals case Gordon v. Gordon, 342 Md. 294 (1996), the Court should consider the following factors when determining if a relationship amounts to cohabitation for purposes of terminating alimony according to separation agreement between the parties: establishment of common residence, long term romantic involvement, shared assets or bank accounts, joint contribution to household finances, and/or recognition of the relationship by the community. The Court in Gordon specifically states that the following provision included in a separation agreement properly defines cohabitation:
For the purposes of this agreement the term “remarriage of the Wife” shall be defined as either a ceremonial civil or religious marriage or a situation whereby the wife habitually and continuously resides with another man without benefit of a marriage ceremony for a period of 120 days consecutively or 120 days cumulatively within a sixteen-month period.
The parties may also agree, via separation agreement, that alimony may not be modified at any time. Otherwise, upon petition by the paying party, and a change in circumstance the Court may modify alimony at any time. Maryland Code, Family Law § 11-107.
If you have questions on alimony termination or modification an experienced Maryland divorce lawyer will be able to assist you.