We address our 2021 financial caselaw since our last seminar regarding child support, maintenance and property cases. These include the ever-important imputing income for support and maintenance topic and foreseeability for modification purposes.
Unless otherwise agreed, maintenance terminates when the recipient “cohabits with another person on a resident, continuing conjugal basis.” Simple, right? Wrong! Since the doctrine of cohabitation was statutorily enacted in 1977, its judicial interpretation has been varied and even contradictory. Courts have vacillated on a spectrum between love and money, at times focusing on the recipient’s romantic relationship (See In Support of Halford, 70 Ill. App. 3d 609, 612 ruling the "husband-wife relationship” contemplates “acts of sexual intercourse as part of the full or de facto husband-wife relationship”) and at times focusing on the recipient’s financial relationship (See In Re Marriage of Sappington, 106 Ill.2d 456 (1985) ruling that “it is the husband-and-wife-like relationship which bears the rational relationship to the need for support, not the absence or presence of sexual intercourse.”) The one constant through it all is the “husband-wife relationship” which, in a world where married couples can have open relationships, financial independence, and even physical independence, distills the doctrine of cohabitation down to the clarity of mud. Review practical considerations, such as where a payor and recipient would be wise to focus their arguments, and philosophical considerations, such as whether our doctrine is fair and accomplishing the purpose it was designed for.