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Living apart together (LAT) relationships are more common than ever before with flexible modern relationships and changing family dynamics. For those in an LAT relationship who are still receiving financial support from an ex-spouse this could raise the question as to whether these payments should continue.

There are a number of reasons couples choose to live in separate homes. It could be to protect the family home and inheritance. Career driven couples may work in different parts of the country or overseas. Or it could simply be that a couple believes living separately will foster a stronger relationship.

With the estimated number of LAT relationships in the UK growing year on year, it is inevitable that a proportion of those in LAT relationships will be receiving maintenance from their former spouse or civil partner.

One of the conditions of receiving maintenance is that payments shall cease if they re-marry or co-inhabit with another. This could encourage former spouses to question why they should continue paying maintenance when their ex-partner is in an LAT relationship, especially where it can be shown that there is a financial as well as emotional connection.

There is currently no legal guidance on this issue as there have not been any reported cases and it is difficult to know how the courts might react. If they take the view that the payment of maintenance should cease, this will inevitably result in a reduced income that would not have been anticipated when entering into an LAT relationship.  Although each case will be based on individual circumstances, the growing popularity of LAT relationships will inevitably lead to a greater risk of costly litigation around this issue in the future.

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.