Does a new relationship affect spousal support?

published by: Rebecca Weisz-Hertsworm posted on February 6, 2023 reading time

In principle, if you are divorced or your registered partnership is dissolved, you have the right to receive alimony or the obligation to pay alimony. An alimony right or obligation does not exist indefinitely. Entering a new relationship may affect spousal support. When does the right to spousal support expire?

Impact of new marriage or registered partnership on spousal support

It follows from the law that an obligation to pay partner alimony ends when the person entitled to alimony remarries or enters into a registered partnership. If you receive alimony and get married or enter into a registered partnership, the right to partner alimony lapses. The new partner then becomes a maintenance debtor and this affects partner alimony.

If the new partner becomes a maintenance obligor, then the maintenance obligor will have to inform the ex-partner. The maintenance obligor has the right to be informed about the changed situation. The timely exchange of information prevents the need to repay alimony. In addition, withholding information can have consequences. If one party was forced to initiate the proceedings because the other party does not fully and truthfully share the facts or does not state truthfully during the proceedings, this can lead to a court cost order.

Living together after divorce or dissolution of partnership

It also follows from the law that an obligation to pay spousal support ends when the person entitled to alimony starts living with another person as if they were married or registered partners. When this occurs is situation dependent. Fortunately, judges have formulated criteria that can help determine whether cohabitation is as if. Between the partner of and the person entitled to alimony there must be (1) an affective relationship, which (2) is of a lasting nature, (3) in which they mutually take care of each other, (4) they live together and (5) in which they maintain a common household.

The aforementioned 5 points provide more clarity but still leave room for discussion. This is also reflected in case law. All facts and circumstances play a role in the judicial review and decision on whether there is a right to spousal support and whether the obligation to pay alimony ends. Societal developments may also play a role. For example, today it is more common to be in a relationship and not spend every day and night together. In addition, there is a societal idea that each person must provide for his/her own livelihood, making it more common not to share all financial resources with each other.

How does the judge rule?

The first two requirements are met if there is a love relationship, an emotional bond between two people (1), which continues for some time (2). If the relationship had a temporary character at its inception (e.g., one-night stand), then it cannot be said to be a lasting relationship. If the relationship lasts longer than a year, then durability is plausible. The challenge lies with the last three requirements because of the different defenses that can be raised.

Judges are very reluctant to assume cohabitation if the alimony recipient and the new partner are not registered at the same address nor do they reside at the same address. If the maintenance creditor and partner are not registered at the same address, but they are very much together, then more attention will be paid to the 3rd and 5th requirements.

Mutual care and a common household exist, among other things, if the cohabitants contribute to the costs of the common household or otherwise provide for each other's care. Merely using each other's facilities in each other's homes is insufficient. If costs (including user charges such as electricity and water) are mutually paid, it is more difficult to argue that there is no mutual care. Mutual care and a common household is assumed more quickly if expenses are paid for the other, such as groceries, vacations and subscriptions. Non-financial factors can also be influential, such as doing the groceries together, cooking for the other or caring for a child of the other.


Entering into a new relationship after the termination of a marriage or registered partnership does not automatically lead to the conclusion that a right to partner alimony lapses. If the person entitled to alimony enters into a new marriage or registered partnership, the ex-partner's right to partner alimony lapses permanently unless the person entitled to alimony and the person liable to alimony have agreed otherwise. How cohabitation affects the right to alimony depends on the design of the relationship of the alimony recipient and the new partner.

Want to know what your rights and obligations are? Contact our family law specialists.