Cohabitation During & After Divorce – What you NEED to know
The divorce process is a sensitive and emotional time for couples. There are a number of triggering factors and high up on the list is the involvement of a third party, not least when one party decides to cohabit with a new partner. Given the current court delays divorce is taking longer than ever and as a result the likelihood of people meeting new partners during the process has increased.
Will I receive a lesser financial settlement if I move in with someone else?
The judiciary do have a wide discretion in relation to deciding financial entitlement. The guidance within Matrimonial Casues Act, 1973 and the most significant factors being:
- Income, earning capacity, property and other assets each spouse has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future
- Financial need, obligations and responsibilities for each spouse now and in the foreseeable
- The standard of living during the marriage
It is possible that the court could take into account your new partner’s financial position in as much as you benefit from it. It could be that you are asked to disclose those financial details to the court. Eminent Mr Justice Mostyn has warned against cohabiting before divorce stating it could harm your settlement.
Relevance of a new partner’s finances will be more relevant where the matrimonial finances are limited. Where the matrimonial pot is more than enough to provide for both spouses and children then a new partners finances are less relevant. It is important to give complete and honest disclosure as any agreement reached without all of the facts could leave the agreement open to review later on.
Will a decision to cohabit impact child arrangements?
Decisions pertaining to child arrangements are dealt with in line with the Children Act, 1989 whether or not you choose to cohabit and the main principles are:
- the child’s welfare is of paramount importance
- child arrangements should be reached without delay
- it is in the best interest of child to have a healthy relationship with both parents (unless exceptional circumstances)
Each case can be entirely different when it comes to living arrangements. You should discuss this with a family solicitor.
Could cohabitation affect grounds for divorce?
As you remain married then technically you could be committing adultery. Whilst this does not affect the financial outcome your new partner will not find being named on court documents a romantic start to your relationship. Once no-fault divorce is in place (planned for April 2022) this will no longer be a consideration.
What rights do I have whilst living together?
Unless you have a cohabitation agreement you will not have any rights. It is advisable you speak to your family lawyer to ensure you are protected.
What happens if I cohabit after my divorce is finalised?
Your ex-spouse can apply to court to have any maintenance payments varied if your circumstances change. And always remember that if you remarry spousal maintenance will automatically end.
Always seek specialist family law advice. Our experienced divorce and cohabitation solicitors are available to help.