In Virginia, alimony may be terminated if there is clear and convincing evidence that the spouse receiving spousal support (alimony) has been habitually cohabitating with another person in a relationship analogous to a marriage for one year or more, pursuant to Code of Virginia §20-109. This includes the cohabitation of same-sex couples.
Samantha Cucco and Michael Lutrell entered into a Property Settlement Agreement pursuant to which Michael Lutrell paid alimony to Samantha Cucco. Mr. Lutrell sought to terminate his alimony payments to Ms. Cucco when he learned Ms. Cucco had been cohabitating with her fiancé, another woman, for over a year.
Ms. Cucco argued that because her relationship was with another woman, she was not cohabitating pursuant to §20-109. In Luttrell v. Cucco, The lower court agreed with Ms. Cucco, stating that “cohabiting in a relationship analogous to marriage” does not include cohabitation by same-sex couples, and the Virginia Court of Appeals agreed. The Supreme Court held that the Court of Appeals erred when it concluded that same sex couples cannot cohabit for purposes of §20-109 and the case was remanded back to the lower court.
If you are seeking to modify alimony based on your spouse's cohabitation with another person, it is important to seek the advice of an experienced family law attorney. Contact Hess Family Law to discuss your particular situation and goals.
Governor Larry Hogan has appointed Judge Michele Hotten to the Maryland Court of Appeals. Judge Hotten currently sits on the Court of Special Appeals, and will fill the vacancy on the Court of Appeals created when Judge Glenn Harrell Jr. reached mandatory retirement age this past June. Judge Hotten has been a judge for the past 21 years. In addition to serving on the Court of Special Appeals, she has served on the Circuit Court for Prince George’s County and the District Court for Prince George’s County.
Judge Hotten joins Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera along with five other judges who hear cases almost exclusively by certiorari, a process that gives the court discretion to decide which cases to hear. The Court of Appeals is mandated by law to hear cases involving the death penalty, legislative redistricting, removal of certain officers, and certifications of questions of law.
Hess Family Law wins Court of Appeals Case: Separation Agreements are Not Voidable
A few months prior to Husband and Wife marrying in September 2003, Wife contacted an attorney to begin the process for Wife, a Canadian citizen, to obtain permanent resident status in the United States. Due to marital difficulties, in 2005 and 2008, Husband and Wife executed Marital Settlement Agreements. Wife used the same attorney to assist her with the drafting of the Agreements that was used by the parties in the Immigration matters. Husband chose not to obtain legal counsel regarding the Separation Agreement even though both Agreements advised Husband that Wife’s attorney was not representing Husband’s interests. Husband and Wife negotiated the terms of their Agreements on their own and Wife advised the attorney on what to draft.