Skip to main content

If you are paying alimony to your ex-spouse in Minnesota, you may be wondering if their new living situation can get you out of your spousal support obligations.

Under Minnesota law, cohabitation with a new partner is one of the justifications for terminating alimony. However, proving that your ex is cohabiting can be tricky.

What is Cohabitation and How Does it Affect Alimony in Minnesota?

Cohabitation refers to a dependent ex-spouse living with a new romantic partner without being married. Under Minnesota Statute 518.552, cohabitation may be grounds to suspend, modify, or terminate your alimony obligations.

However, cohabitation alone does not automatically end alimony. The supporting ex-spouse must prove:

  • Their ex is involved in a “permanent resident, romantic, committed” relationship that resembles a new marital partnership
  • The supported ex’s financial needs have changed due to cohabitation with the new partner

If you can prove both conditions, the court may reduce or terminate your alimony payments. But the burden of proof lies heavily on you as the paying ex-spouse.

How Can You Prove Your Ex is Cohabiting in Minnesota?

Proving cohabitation is challenging, as it requires demonstrating your ex-spouse is living with someone in a spouse-like relationship. Here are some tips for gathering evidence of cohabitation:

Keep Detailed Records

Take note of any time you witness your ex-spouse interacting with their suspected partner. Write down:

  • Where and when you see them together (home, errands, dates, etc.)
  • Personal items or clothing you noticed at your ex’s home
  • Vehicles regularly parked at your ex’s residence

This documentation will be useful when presenting your case to the court.

Check Public Records

See if your ex-spouse and suspected partner have:

  • Joint bank accounts or credit cards
  • Shared rental or mortgage agreements
  • Joint utility bills or other shared expenses

Talk to Neighbors, Friends, and Family

Ask those close to your ex if they have witnessed signs your ex is cohabiting. Have they seen the suspected partner regularly coming and going from your ex’s home? Statements from witnesses can serve as testimony.

Check Social Media

Social media posts indicating cohabitation can be used as evidence in Minnesota family court. Look for:

  • Photos of your ex-spouse and suspected partner together at home or on trips
  • Romantic anniversary/holiday posts between the two
  • Statements about sharing expenses or household responsibilities

Hire a Private Investigator

A private investigator in Minnesota can conduct surveillance of your ex’s home and gather photographic/video evidence of cohabitation. They can also interview neighbors or friends to build your case.

Subpoena Records

Your divorce attorney can issue subpoenas to banks, utilities, or other agencies to obtain financial records that may reveal joint expenses by your ex and their partner.

Using Social Media Sites to Prove Cohabitation in Minnesota

Social media is being used more frequently in Minnesota divorce cases, including for proving cohabitation.

However, there are rules around presenting social media evidence in court:

  • Posts must be legally obtained, relevant, and properly authenticated. Illegally accessing your ex’s accounts could jeopardize your case.
  • Look for recent posts that directly suggest cohabitation. Random old photos of your ex with their new partner may not suffice as evidence on their own.
  • Context matters. Posts celebrating a shared move-in date or using “our home” may indicate cohabitation. But captionless photos at your ex’s house may have innocent explanations.
  • Financial interdependence is key. Shared expenses, joint purchases, and pooling assets suggest a marital-like economic partnership.
  • Consult your divorce lawyer about social media evidence to ensure it will hold up in court. They can help present it in the proper legal context.

In summary, social media can be useful to demonstrate cohabitation, but the content must clearly imply a romantic, financially-entangled partnership.

How to Legally Terminate Alimony Payments Due to Cohabitation

If you have gathered solid proof your dependent ex is cohabiting in Minnesota, here are your next steps:

1. File a motion to modify spousal maintenance

Cite “cohabitation” as your grounds for termination under MN Statute 518.552. Present your evidence of their new co-resident romantic relationship.

2. Request a hearing

If your ex contests the cohabitation claims, the court will schedule an evidentiary hearing to evaluate the evidence. Both parties will testify.

3. The judge evaluates the evidence and makes a ruling

If you meet the burden of proof, the judge will issue an order terminating or modifying the alimony payments accordingly.

4. Alimony payments are adjusted per the court order

If terminated, you may stop paying spousal support as of the court’s order date.

5. Seek reimbursement (optional)

If alimony was terminated retroactively, you can file a motion to recoup any overpaid sums from the date cohabitation began.

Consult with an experienced Minnesota family law attorney to ensure you take the proper legal steps to terminate alimony payments. They will advise you on the likelihood of success based on the evidence gathered.

Work With a Minnesota Divorce Attorney to End Alimony Payments

Trying to prove your ex-spouse’s cohabitation on your own can be extremely challenging. Working with an experienced Minnesota family law attorney provides many advantages:

  • They can ensure evidence is collected legally and will stand up in court. Illegally obtained evidence may be inadmissible.
  • They will develop the strongest arguments to convince the judge your ex’s relationship amounts to cohabitation under the law.
  • If your termination request is denied, they can appeal the ruling.
  • They can negotiate with your ex-spouse directly or in mediation to potentially reach a settlement terminating alimony without going to court.
  • If your ex does not comply with a termination order, your attorney can pursue enforcement.
  • They can provide guidance on other options, like seeking a modification vs. outright termination of the payments.

Don’t let frustration over your ex-spouse’s unofficial “remarriage” lead you to make legal missteps. The experienced family law attorneys at Martine Law provide compassionate counsel and fierce advocacy to protect your rights during and after your Minnesota divorce.

Contact us for a case evaluation if you need help ending any ongoing alimony or spousal maintenance obligations.