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Cell phone data used as proof of cohabitation in alimony cases

When the Massachusetts Alimony Reform Act of 2011 was signed into law, it brought with it several changes to the way alimony could be paid out. Perhaps most notably, it put an end to the notion of permanent alimony, instead instituting a new system to determine how much a spouse could be entitled to and for how long payments needed to be made. These determinations are now made based on factors such as how long the marriage lasted, as well as the income levels of the payer. One of the less talked about changes involves cohabitation, and some individuals are now using cell phone data to try and end their alimony payments.

According to the Alimony Reform Act of 2011, if a receiver of alimony payments is found to be cohabitating with another individual in a common household for three consecutive months, they may be subject to having their alimony payments reduced or terminated altogether. This cohabitation must entail some aspect of a romantic relationship, rather than cohabitating with a roommate or a family member. Notably, the law does not necessitate that the alimony payee actually receive any financial support from the individual they cohabitate with.

Come individuals looking to have their alimony obligations reduced or ended altogether are now looking to cell phone data to help prove their claims. In situations where cohabitation claims have come into dispute, some individuals have turned to cell phone tower information to lend credence to their claims of a former spouses cohabitation with another person. This entails getting the cell phone records of an alimony recipient, it can actually be determined whether or not an individuals' phone was consistently at the home in question. If so, it could be compelling evidence if used in a courtroom.

Simply having cell phone data does not, however, absolutely prove romantic cohabitation. In many instances, further evidence is needed to make the case for a reduction in alimony payments. Speaking with a legal expert may help shed more light on this new trend.

Source: Huffington Post, "Cohabitation and Alimony - Do the Current Laws Make Sense?" Diane L Danois J.D., July 8, 2013

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