What is Cohabitation?
Cohabitation is simply the act of two people living together that are in an intimate relationship without being married. The law in Pennsylvania states that no spouse is entitled to receive an award of alimony where the spouse, subsequent to the divorce pursuant to which the alimony is being sought, has entered into cohabitation with a person of the opposite sex who is not a member of the spouse’s family within the degrees of consanguinity.
Cohabitation can be shown according to the Pennsylvania Superior Court “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).
No petitioner is entitled to receive an award of alimony where the petitioner, subsequent to the divorce pursuant to which alimony is being sought, has entered into cohabitation with a person of the opposite sex who is not a member of the family of the petitioner within the degrees of consanguinity.
Knowing someone is cohabiting and proving it are two entirely different things. Unfortunately, proving cohabitation may or may not end your obligation to pay alimony. The court has the final say. For this reason, proving cohabitation in Pennsylvania requires a private investigator to demonstrate that the ex-spouse is living in what the courts defines as cohabitation.
Proving Cohabitation Investigative Methods
Surveillance is utilized over the course of one to four weeks to help in proving cohabitation. We look for consistency in daily activities. That means video evidence of the ex-spouse and partner coming and going to the residence including video evidence of them using keys and garage door openers as well as parking in the driveway and garage.
Additionally, useful video evidence includes documentation of the ex-spouse and partner engaged in yard work, house maintenance and retrieving mail from the mailbox. The storage of tools, boats, trailers, and other items owned by the partner should also be documented.
Public displays of affection between the ex-spouse and partner are an added bonus.
Lancaster Detective Agency utilizes custom Unmanned Surveillance Systems to record 27/7 . Some of our systems are recorded on site, others are recorded on-site and the cloud with access to a Live video stream. Our systems are cost effective and provided no room for dispute. We are able to deploy our systems quickly with lower cost the physical surveillance
2. Public Records
3. Social media
4. Trash Pull
A trash pull can provide information when it comes to proving cohabitation. The more evidence you have the better your client’s chance in court.
You may find many useful items in a trash pull including notes, letters, and other documentation suggesting a spouse-like relationship. Prescription bottles and banking paperwork may indicate shared accounts.
Retrieving and going through someone’s trash is legally permitted if it is located out to be collected by the trash company and is admissible in court.
5. Gathering Statements
How does the neighborhood view the relationship? Interview neighbors and others in the community. They may be able to shed light on how the relationship between the ex-spouse and partner is viewed. This would be done at the end of the investigation as it will no doubt get back to the ex-spouse.
6. Background check
A background investigation of the ex-spouse’s partner may also reveal problems. While it may not prove cohabitation, it could help in the child custody area.
In the end, only the court can determine if an ex-spouse and partner are living in a cohabitation relationship.