The answer is “maybe.” In Iowa, cohabitation with another person does not automatically result in a reduction or termination of alimony. This is because cohabitation has too many variables that affect the rights of the paying party and recipient.
But, the paying party can file a petition to modify an existing alimony award, and argue that cohabitation is a substantial change in circumstances requiring the court to either lower or terminate alimony.
The initial burden rests on the paying party to prove that the recipient is cohabitating with an unrelated person. The paying party must also prove that the recipient and unrelated person are cohabitating as spouses would. Courts put significant weight on whether the recipient and/or unrelated person have unrestricted access to the home, demonstrating that the recipient is living with the unrelated person.
Once the paying party proves their initial burden, the burden then shifts to the recipient to demonstrate why alimony should continue. The recipient can show an ongoing need for payments. For example, courts have recognized medical issues and the recipient’s inability to find employment as ongoing needs. Or, the recipient can argue that the original alimony award is unmodifiable. This is appropriate when the alimony was awarded for reimbursement or rehabilitation purposes.
Before moving, we suggest you talk to an attorney.