How an Ex-Spouse’s Cohabitation May Affect Florida Alimony
It is not uncommon for a person who receives alimony to remain unmarried - even if they are in a long-term, committed relationship - just so they can continue to receive those payments. If the ex-spouse is living with the new partner, Florida law allows evidence of that cohabitation, or “supportive relationship,” to be used to modify an award of alimony – even though Florida has a criminal prohibition against cohabitation.
Modification of Boca Raton Alimony Award
Florida law permits the court to reduce or terminate an award of alimony if it finds that, since the divorce was finalized, the person receiving alimony (the obligee) has entered into a supportive relationship with an unrelated third party, and that the parties are living together. The obligor (the person paying alimony) has the burden of proving the existence of the supportive relationship.
In deciding whether to terminate or reduce the amount of alimony paid by the obligor, the court must examine “the nature and extent of the relationship” to determine whether the parties provide each other with the same level of support as a married couple. In doing so, the court must take into consideration any factors that tend to support or deny the existence of a supportive relationship, including:
- Whether the parties have held themselves out as, or acted in a manner which suggests that they are, married or in a permanent supportive relationship, regardless of the fact that common law marriage is invalid in Florida;
- The amount of time the parties have lived together;
- The level at which the parties have commingled their assets or otherwise shown financial dependence on the other. For example, if one party stays at home to raise the children from the marriage while the other works to support the “family”, or if the couple deposits all of their money into one joint account;
- The level at which either person has supported, or provided valuable services for, the other;
- Whether the parties have worked together to create or enhance anything of value, such as contributing money to remodel the other’s home or entering into a business together;
- Whether the parties have jointly purchased a home or other property;
- Whether the parties have entered in an express or implied agreement regarding supporting the other or sharing property, such as a cohabitation agreement, or;
- Whether either party has supported the other’s children, when they have no legal duty to do so.
The presence of any of these factors would tend to show that the obligee has entered into a supportive relationship. Such a relationship has enough of a resemblance to marriage – when in most cases the payment of alimony terminates – that the obligor should not be required to pay alimony in the amount awarded when the divorce was finalized.
Boca Raton Alimony Attorneys
If you were ordered to pay alimony, you may be entitled to a reduction or termination of the alimony award if your ex-spouse has entered into a supportive relationship with an unrelated third party. The Boca Raton alimony attorneys at Schwartz | White can help. Drawing on more than 50 years’ combined experience handling alimony and family law cases, our attorneys will review the facts of your case with you to help you determine whether you have a claim for alimony reduction. Contact our office today at 561.391.9943, or complete our convenient web form, to schedule an appointment with an attorney.