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Why Would the Court Order You to Pay $1 Per Month in Permanent Alimony?


Most alimony arrangements can be terminated early if the recipient spouse remarries, even if the alimony was originally meant to be permanent.  Of course, it is possible for a couple to act as a single financial unit without being legally married.  In fact, over the years, the courts heard the grievances of many divorced people whose former spouses continued to enrich themselves with the court-ordered alimony they received while being married in all but name to someone else, with the new partner paying most or all of their living expenses.  In 2005, Florida enacted a law in which the court can terminate your alimony obligations if your ex-spouse enters a financially supportive relationship with a new partner, even if they are not legally married.  A South Florida alimony lawyer can help you persuade the court that your ex-spouse’s relationship with his or her new partner involves enough financial support to warrant terminating your alimony obligations.

What Counts as a Financially Supportive Relationship?

You can only successfully argue that your ex is in a financially supportive cohabitation relationship if your ex lives with a person who lives with a person who provides financial support and is not a family member.  Therefore, if your ex-wife lives with her new boyfriend and they share expenses, you can terminate your alimony.  You can also terminate it if she lives rent-free with a platonic friend.  It is not grounds to terminate alimony if your ex lives with a family member related by blood or marriage, such as her sister, her cousin, or even the wife of her late uncle.

The Case of the Open-Ended Engagement

After Suzette and William Reno divorced, the court ordered him to pay her permanent alimony.  Suzette later got engaged to a man referred to in the appeals court’s decision as Mr. Zimms, although they did not set a wedding date.  Suzette moved into Mr. Zimms’ house and began working for his business in an unofficial capacity.

William went back to court to reduce his alimony obligation, citing the reduction in his own income as well as Suzette’s financially supportive relationship with Mr. Zimms.  The trial court terminated the alimony obligation, which neither party had requested.  Suzette filed an appeal.  The appeals court restored the alimony obligation to $1 per month; this way, the obligation still existed, and the court could later modify the amount as necessary.  The appeals court issued this decision in 2004, and the current law went into effect the following year, so it is likely that William would have been able to terminate his alimony obligations after that if he had chosen to.

Let Us Help You Today

Sometimes the most complicated parts of divorce only happen after your ex-spouse enters a new relationship; an experienced Boca Raton alimony lawyer can help you work out the details.  Contact Schwartz | White about your case.



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