The law has long been that unless agreed otherwise in a divorce decree, if a spousal maintenance recipient remarries, the remarriage terminates the spousal maintenance award. The rationale, based largely upon traditional gender stereotypes, goes something like this: If an ex-wife remarries, she now has a new husband to support her, and she no longer requires spousal maintenance from her former husband.
On the surface, this makes sense. But, an unintended consequence from this law is that it promotes people in a romantic relationship living together (i.e. cohabiting) outside of a marriage relationship. That is, in order to avoid cutting off the spousal maintenance income stream, ex-wives would simply live with their new partners – “as if” husband and wife – without marrying them. This enables them to enjoy the benefits of their new relationship and the spousal maintenance payments from their former spouse at the same time. Of course, living together outside of marriage, although common in today’s society, is not something that the State of Minnesota wants to promote.
Whether to alter public policy or not, the legislature has changed the law with respect to cohabitation. The law now recognizes cohabitation as a basis for seeking to modify spousal maintenance. Unlike a remarriage, however, it does not trigger an automatic termination. There are a number of factors that the Court must consider in determining whether to modify a spousal maintenance award due to cohabitation.
The text of the new law can be found here.
Time will tell whether this change will cause divorced spouses to simply remarry.
Contact Beyer & Simonson
If you are facing divorce and any of the divorce-related issues such as spousal maintenance, child support, child custody, property division, or domestic abuse matters, you need our experienced Minneapolis divorce attorneys to help you. Contact Beyer & Simonson in Edina, Minnesota today at (952) 303-6007.