Emily M. May


As nonmarital cohabitation has skyrocketed over the last several decades, courts and legislatures have increasingly struggled to decide what legal effect an ex-spouse's cohabitation with a new partner should have on the receipt of alimony payments. In seeking to answer this cohabitation question, states have taken a variety of approaches. Often, however, courts' answers to the cohabitation question are not grounded in the rationale that those courts used to award alimony in the first place and may therefore lead to inconsistent or absurd results. This Note addresses the cohabitation question and argues that states should revisit their current approaches in light of the multiple contemporary theories of alimony and twenty-first century social-science research on cohabitation. Ultimately, this Note proposes several clarifications to existing law in order to provide a sensible, workable rule that would introduce consistency to courts' considerations of the cohabitation question.

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