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Florida's Cohabitation Statute What happens with alimony when my former spouse has a new partner?

Florida's Cohabitation Statute What happens with alimony when my former spouse has a new partner?

Alimony modification issues often arise after a divorce has been finalized incidentally, so do complications regarding relevant changes of circumstance. For example, if your former spouse has established a live-in relationship with a new partner (or other party) in which the new partner is financially contributing to the support of the former spouse, you may be able to reduce or terminate alimony payments in light of this situation, but only if the relationship began after the final dissolution of marriage.

Florida Statute 61.14(1)(b), known as the cohabitation statute, states that the court may reduce or terminate an award of alimony based upon specific written findings by the court that since the granting of a divorce and the award of alimony a supportive relationship has existed between the obligee (the person who receives alimony) and a person with whom the obligee resides.

The statute also dictates that it is the burden of the obligor (the person who pays alimony) to prove that such a relationship exists, and outlines several conditions that the court must follow in order to make the appropriate determination. Some of these conditions include (but are not limited to) the period of time that the obligee has resided with the other person in a permanent home, the extent to which the obligee and other person have pooled their assets or asserted financial interdependence, and the extent to which the obligee or other person has performed valuable services for the other. The statute states that the nature of the relationship does not necessarily have to be romantic, so long as the partner provides economic support equivalent to a marriage. This means that the rule could still apply if your ex is now living with his or her mother, if your former mother-in-law is providing sufficient financial support.

In a case from 2009, the Circuit Court for Pinellas County, Florida entered an order that reduced a Former Husband's alimony payments based on the existence of a supportive relationship between the obligee and another person. Upon appeal, however, the District Court overturned the ruling based upon evidence that the supportive relationship in question existed prior to the divorce, and that the Former Husband was aware of the relationship. King v. King, 82 So. 2d 1124 (Fla. 3d DCA 2012).

This illustrates the importance of clarifying the specific details of your particular situation with your attorney before the divorce has been granted. In the case in question, the parties were divorced in 2004, but the Former Wife had lived with her new partner in the marital home since 2002. Since the relationship pre-dated the finalized divorce, the Former Husband was left on the hook for the previously established $3100 per month alimony payment. So if you are ready to proceed with a divorce and your spouse is cohabitating with someone else in a supportive relationship, be sure to inform your divorce lawyer, know the extents and limitations of your rights so that you're not left financing someone else's new lifestyle!

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen K. Miller for a free consultation with one of our attorneys at (866) 496-8752 or via email at Info@ForYourLaw.com.

BY: Stephanie N. Mack, Board Certified Attorney in Marital & Family Law

May 21, 2012

 
 
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