– from Vanessa R. in West Bend, WI

Question Details:

Me and my ex-husband divorced a few months ago. I wasn't working for most of our marriage, and was awarded maintenance. I now have a man in my life that I care about very deeply. We would really like to move in together. He makes pretty good money, but I want to maintain financial independence. I'm still looking for a decent paying job, and receiving maintenance until I can afford to support myself on my own. If my new boyfriend and I move in together, will that cause my maintenance to be terminated?

Family Law Attorney Response:

This is a tricky situation. There are several things that could come into play, and should be taken into consideration. Things like the manner in which your cohabitation will commence.

Will you be moving in with him, he with you, or will you both be looking for a new place? How will you split the rent, bills, and living expenses? Who will pay for food? Will he be supporting you?

You stated that you wish to maintain financial independence, but you are currently living on your awarded maintenance. Will this money be used to pay your half of the rent and bills, or for your living means while he pays the rent and bills?

In the case of Van Gorder v. Van Gorder, 110 Wis. 2d 188, 327 N.W.2d 674 (1983), the supreme court overruled reversed the decision of the circuit court to terminate maintenance when a woman began living with another man. It was not demonstrated that this cohabitation affected her financially. However, in the case of Take v. Take, 70 Wis. 2d 115, 233 N.W.2d 449 (1975), the cohabitation was found to have an economic impact on her financial status, and was thereby terminated.

You would need to sit down with an experienced family law attorney and go over the details of this cohabitation with a fine-tooth comb. It does not always mean an automatic termination, but it may have an affect on the continuation of maintenance. A one-on-one with an attorney will assist you by explaining the possible outcomes based on the specifics of your case.

Dan Exner, J.D.

Family Law Attorney

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