Jill Bornstein


In the wake of anti-gay marriage policies in the United States, courts and state legislature alike are struggling to reconcile these policies with well-established principles of equity in the law. This note examines states' anti-same-sex marriage policies as they relate to the states' respective policies regarding alimony termination. Generally, upon divorce, the dependent spouse from a dissolving marriage will receive alimony payments from the independent spouse until the death or remarriage of the dependent spouse. Many states have expanded the definition of "remarriage" to include a dependent spouse's cohabitation with another individual in a financially interdependent, conjugal relationship. Terminating alimony payments upon the dependent spouse's cohabitation with another individual preserves equity for the payor-spouse, as it prevents the receipient spouse from using alimony to support a third person. However, some states' legal ban on same-sex marriage has effectively thwarted the courts' ability to implement and maintain equitable alimony arrangements. Specifically, the payor-spouse would be required to support the recipient spouse, even where the recipient spouse entered into a cohabitating, interdependent, and conjugal relationship with another person of the same sex. This note proposes that, to uphold principles of equity in alimony disputes, states must recognize cohabitating, interdependent same-sex relationships as potential triggers for terminating alimony payments to a recipient spouse.