The Florida Courts’ Four-Step Process for Terminating or Reducing Alimony Obligations
Most divorce decrees don’t include alimony, and in the case of the ones that do, it is usually obvious from the time the court receives the divorce petition, if not earlier, that one spouse will need alimony, at least for a while. Despite this, determining the exact amount and conditions of alimony can be a contentious issue in mediation or at trial. Florida law enables a former spouse who pays alimony to terminate his or her alimony obligations ahead of schedule if the recipient spouse cohabits with a domestic partner or receives substantial financial support from a romantic relationship, even if the recipient spouse and the new partner do not live together. Despite this, there is plenty of room for disagreement about terminating alimony obligations. A Boca Raton alimony lawyer can help you if you are paying court-ordered alimony, but you think that conditions apply that would enable you to stop paying early or reduce the amount.
The Dump the Freeloader Four-Step
Getting out of your alimony obligations is not simply a matter of “ask, and you shall receive.” You must do more than simply show the court a cell phone photo of your ex-spouse dining at an expensive restaurant with someone new. Due process of law applies in situations where one former spouse requests to terminate or reduce an existing alimony obligation. If you have evidence that your ex is cohabiting with a new partner or getting financial support from someone he or she is dating, you have the right to file a motion to terminate or reduce alimony. Upon receiving this motion, the court must complete the following four steps:
- The court must make findings to determine the nature of the recipient spouse’s relationship with the person who is allegedly providing financial support or with whom the recipient spouse is cohabitating.
- Based on these findings, the court must make a determination about whether the recipient spouse is in a supportive relationship. If the recipient spouse is not in a supportive relationship, the court does not modify the alimony award. If the recipient spouse is in a supportive relationship, the court moves on to the third step.
- If the recipient spouse is in a supportive relationship, the court makes findings to determine the economic impact that reducing or terminating the alimony order would have on both spouses.
- Based on these findings, the court issues a new order with no alimony obligations or with a reduced duration or amount of alimony.
The process is more complex than it seems, and it works best if you have a lawyer representing you. Remember that it is also possible to modify your alimony obligations because your own financial circumstances have changed, even if your ex-spouse has not entered a supportive relationship.
Contact Schwartz | White About Modifying Alimony Orders
A South Florida family law attorney can help you reduce or terminate your alimony obligations if your ex-spouse has entered a financially supportive relationship. Contact Schwartz | White in Boca Raton, Florida about your case.