Alimony and Cohabitation in Pennsylvania

Posted in Divorce

The law in Pennsylvania states that no spouse is entitled to receive an award of alimony where the spouse, subsequent to the divorce pursuant to which the alimony is being sought, has entered into cohabitation with a person of the opposite sex who is not a member of the spouse’s family within the degrees of consanguinity. Cohabitation can be shown according to the Pennsylvania Superior Court “by evidence of financial, social, and sexual interdependence, by a sharing of the same residence, and by other means.”  Moran v. Moran, 839 A.2d 1091, (Pa. Super. 2003). 

When alimony is awarded by the courts, one spouse provides payments to the other spouse to care for their reasonable needs after a divorce. The higher earning spouse pays alimony to the lesser earning spouse. The amount of alimony is based upon such factors as the lifestyle and standard of living during the marriage, the ability of a spouse to adequately support themselves through appropriate employment and the ability of the higher earning spouse to pay.

Pennsylvania views alimony as a fair and equitable result of divorce. Its purpose is not to punish the paying spouse nor reward the receiving spouse. When a spouse is cohabitating, and simply living with their boyfriend or girlfriend, their financial needs change. They no longer need their ex-spouse to financially contribute to help them meet basic needs, their paramour or significant other can assist and share in the expenses for the necessities of life. To require the higher earning spouse to continue making payments in Pennsylvania to an ex-spouse that is cohabitating would not be fair.