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Topic:
Cohabitation scenario NOT covered by the consent order (3 Posts)
Started By:
Date:
06 July, 2017 08:48PM
Cohabitation scenario NOT covered by the consent order
BW - 06 July, 2017 08:48PM
I can't find a match for my circumstances and would appreciate some perspective. Recently divorced. My ex-wife received the majority of the house and I was bought out by a "mystery buyer". The children live with me but I have to pay significant spousal maintenance as my ex chooses not to work and I have a solid income. Turns out that the "mystery buyer" was the man who had been hanging out in the house for many months and that he moved in "as a lodger" the day after settlement. The terms of our consent order state that SM ceases if there is cohabitation for at least a year. In this case, cohabitation cannot be denied (he bought my share of the property and now lives there) but there could be difficulty proving they are a couple, whether he is a resource to her and what he ought to be contributing. Would there be any possibility of having my SM obligations removed or adjusted down on the basis that co-owning the property which they cohabit is possibly a stronger bond than a 12-mth relationship, despite it not being specified as a scenario in the final order?
Re: Cohabitation scenario NOT covered by the consent order
davidterry - 07 July, 2017 09:17AM
If the fact that she was no cohabiting or intending to cohabit soon was not disclosed at the time the order was made then it is possible that you may have grounds for having it set aside. However, doing this is not easy and you run the risk that a court might decide that this additional information would have made no difference to the outcome. (You will appreciate that whether it would or not and what a court would say about it now are actually two different things).

Bearing in mind that such an application would incur significant costs and that the outcome is uncertain it may be simpler to wait until they have cohabited for 12 months and then stop the spousal maintenance.
Re: Cohabitation scenario NOT covered by the consent order
BW - 09 July, 2017 10:19AM
Thanks for the answer - appreciated. She may claim that he is just a friend who had invested in the house and now lives in it. I have that problem now and would expect the same in 12 months and longer. So, if I can't "prove" they are a couple now, or in future, I was wondering if the fact that they co-own a property was a strong signal and, if that was the case, wouldn't that be a stronger sign of commitment to a relationship vs simply living together for 12 months? She definitely did not disclose her intention to cohabit (but, again, she would argue that they were not a couple). Either way, they have an ability to pool their resources whilst still receiving maintenance from me. Would this hinge on me being able to either:

a) demonstrate that she is receiving financial support from him --> they are couple?
b) prove they are a couple, then ask for his financial information --> determine what he ought to be contributing?

I do get a strong sense that this could hinge on the view of the judge on the day.
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