Implementing Marriage Equality, Luttrell v. Cucco

Under Virginia law, a divorcing spouse may be ordered to pay spousal support (also known as alimony) to the other spouse, but the support is discontinued if the spouse receiving the support remarries or is “cohabiting with another person in a relationship analogous to marriage.” When Michael Luttrell and his wife, Samantha Cucco, divorced, they agreed that he would pay her monthly support for a number of years, unless the judge terminated the support early because of her marriage or cohabitation.   When Michael learned that Samantha had been living with her fiancée, a woman, for over a year, he asked the judge to terminate the spousal support obligation. The judge refused, saying that “cohabiting in a relationship analogous to marriage” does not include cohabitation by same-sex couples. The Virginia Court of Appeals agreed. We filed a petition on Michael’s behalf asking the Virginia Supreme Court to hear the case. We argue that cohabitation means living with any other person, and that now that Virginia recognizes the legal marriages of same-sex couples, “cohabitation analogous to marriage” must include same-sex couples as well. On November 3, 2015, the Virginia Supreme Court granted our petition and will hear arguments on this case early next year. On April 28, 2016, the Virginia Supreme Court reversed the appeals court's decision.


Gail Deady, ACLU of Virginia; Joshua Block, ACLU National

Pro Bono Law Firm(s)

Anneshia Grant, Livesay & Myers, P.C., Fairfax, Virginia

Date filed

May 21, 2015


Virginia Supreme Court