The ex-husband filed a petition to terminate maintenance. He alleged that his former spouse of 17 years was cohabitating with her boyfriend.
The Court denied his petition. It stated that his ex-wife was not in a resident, continuing conjugal relationship. She was in an intimate dating relationship. It did not have the permanence of a de facto marriage. Husband appealed.
The court considers the following non-exhaustive factors to determine whether a party is engaged in a de facto marriage, and thus whether the party’s former spouse is no longer obligated to pay spousal maintenance: (1) the length of the relationship, (2) the amount of time the former spouse and new partner spend together, (3) the nature of the activities in which they participate, (4) the interrelation of their personal affairs, and whether they (5) vacation and (6) spend holidays together; other factors include the effect the relationship has on the recipient former spouse’s financial need for maintenance and the intended permanence or mutual commitment to the relationship.
They did not share finances or commingle the daily aspects of their lives. As opposed to an intimate dating relationship, a de facto marriage, as necessary for the former spouse of the party involved in such marriage to no longer be required to pay spousal maintenance, involves a deeper commitment, permanence, and partnership.
Former wife was not involved in a de facto marriage with boyfriend, and thus former husband was not excused from the obligation to pay former wife spousal maintenance; although the former wife and boyfriend had been in a relationship for at least eight months and spent significant time together, the boyfriend did not move in with former wife and did not share in household chores, he and former wife did not have joint accounts or commingle their finances, and they did not provide for each other in wills or estate planning.
The Appellate Court held that it was right to award permanent maintenance of $10,000 per month, as ex-husband had a regular and ongoing opportunity to earn income. Ex-wife’s prospects were limited and would not be sufficient to maintain her lifestyle from the time during their marriage.
In re Marriage of Churchill, 2019 IL App (3d) 180208 (April 29, 2019)
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