The simple and unhelpful answer is yes, possibly. You may be under the illusion that by putting-off moving in with a new partner until everything is finalised, your divorce negotiations and financial settlement won’t be affected. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as that, and in any case, the divorce process can be lengthy.
So what are the rules?
The income and assets of your new partner and the financial support they offer you, if any, will be of interest to the court and must be disclosed in the negotiations with your spouse. The reasoning behind this is that if you are living together then your new partner may be helping to meet your needs; your needs are a factor taken into account by the court in working out a fair settlement on divorce. A new partner’s ability to contribute to those needs is particularly relevant where the matrimonial assets available are limited.
It’s understandable that you may feel unsettled by involving your new partner in your divorce proceeding, but the consequences of not doing so cannot be ignored. If you do not reveal that you are moving in together during the divorce negotiations or soon after, you risk your ex-partner applying to the court to set aside any financial settlement you reach on the basis of material non-disclosure.
If spousal maintenance is being paid to you and you begin cohabiting, then your ex-partner may apply to court to reduce the amount they have to pay you, on the basis that your need has changed as you have someone else helping to meet your outgoings. If you end up remarrying a new partner, then your spousal maintenance will cease entirely.
The decision to cohabit can therefore be a complex one to make, and if you intend to buy together will affect your need for a comprehensive will. For further advice on cohabitation, divorce and the settlement of matrimonial finances please contact our expert family team.