Cohabitation and Financial Settlements in Divorce or Dissolution

This article explores how cohabitation by a former spouse or civil partner can impact financial settlements in divorce or dissolution proceedings.

Key Points:

  • Cohabitation itself doesn’t prevent financial support awards (unlike remarriage).
  • The court considers cohabitation as a relevant factor when deciding financial settlements, particularly lump sums and property adjustments.
  • The court prioritizes the needs of the former spouse and children over those of a new cohabitant.
  • The financial resources of a new cohabitant are not directly considered, but their impact on the former spouse’s needs is weighed.
  • Cohabitation can affect the duration of maintenance payments (periodical payments).
  • Courts may investigate the nature of cohabitation to avoid sham arrangements to reduce financial obligations.
  • Former spouses living with new partners must disclose their partner’s financial details in their statements.

Cohabitation vs. Remarriage

While remarriage automatically ends the court’s jurisdiction for certain financial orders, cohabitation does not. However, the court considers cohabitation when dividing assets and determining ongoing financial support.

Impact on Financial Settlements

The existence of a new cohabiting relationship can influence the following aspects of a financial settlement:

  • Property division: If a former spouse is being supported by a new partner, the court might be more likely to award the other spouse a larger share of the marital property, especially if there are children involved.
  • Maintenance payments: Cohabitation may affect the amount or duration of maintenance payments awarded to a financially dependent former spouse. The court considers if the new partner contributes to the former spouse’s living expenses, reducing their financial need.

Determining Cohabitation

The court looks beyond labels and focuses on the realities of the situation to determine cohabitation. Factors considered include:

  • Shared living arrangements (although not necessarily the same address)
  • Shared finances and daily life
  • Stability and permanence of the relationship
  • Presence of children
  • Intention and motivation of the couple

Disclosure Requirements

Former spouses living with new partners are obligated to disclose their partner’s financial information in court proceedings.


Cohabitation is a complex factor in financial settlements after divorce or dissolution. While it doesn’t automatically prevent financial support, the court considers its impact on the former spouse’s financial needs and adjusts the settlement accordingly. This emphasizes the importance of full disclosure and transparency during the proceedings.

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