Pennsylvania law precludes an award of alimony if a party is cohabitating with a member of the opposite sex or gender who is not a member of the family of the petitioner within the degrees of consanguinity. But what constitutes “cohabitation?”

Cohabitation is determined by the specific circumstances in the case. The Pennsylvania Superior Court has explained that “cohabitation may be shown by evidence of financial, social, and sexual interdependence, by a sharing of the same residence, and by other means.” Moran v. Moran, 839 A.2d 1091, (Pa. Super. 2003). In Moran, a wife’s request for alimony was denied where she began residing with a man after separation but before the entry of final decree. Wife and her paramour lived together, spent money on food together, shared bank account and expenses. The Court determined that these factors showed “interdependence” and therefore alimony was not awarded. It did not matter that the wife separated from her paramour before the divorce master’s hearing.

It is important to remember that alimony is designed to meet the needs of a former spouse who is unable to support himself or herself through appropriate employment. It is based upon the reasonable needs of a former spouse in accordance with the lifestyle and standard of living established by the parties during the marriage, as well as a former spouses’ ability to pay. The primary purpose to provide a spouse with sufficient income for his / her needs after the divorce. Alimony is not to reward a party or punish a spouse.

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