In divorce cases, Florida courts often award alimony to a financially-dependent spouse, particularly when the couple has been married for many years. When a spouse receiving alimony remarries, starts living with someone else or experiences an improved financial situation, the paying spouse will most likely want to reduce or eliminate spousal support payments.
This article explains how a supported spouse’s remarriage or cohabitation affects alimony under Florida law.
If after reading this article you have more questions about remarriage and alimony in Florida, at Pamela Fero Law we can provide you with all the information and advice you need.
Overview of Alimony in Florida
During a divorce proceeding, the court can grant alimony to either spouse. There are several types of alimony awards, which can serve a variety of purposes. Sometimes, courts grant spousal support to “bridge the gap” until a spouse is self-supporting.
Other times, the purpose of alimony is to provide a spouse with financial support for a limited or permanent amount of time. Alimony may also serve to reimburse one spouse’s contributions during the marriage.
The most common type of alimony is periodic alimony, which consists of payments made according to a schedule (usually monthly) from the paying spouse to the supported spouse.
Courts will consider several factors when deciding whether or not to grant alimony, including:
- the couple’s standard of living during the marriage
- how long the marriage lasted
- the age and health of each spouse
- each spouse’s financial resources, including property received in the divorce
- each spouse’s earning potential and other sources of income
- each spouse’s contributions during the marriage
- each spouse’s childcare responsibilities,
- tax implications of alimony, and
- any other factor necessary to make a fair decision.
Impact of Remarriage on Alimony in Florida
In Florida, periodic alimony automatically ends when the supported spouse remarries. The paying spouse may stop making support payments immediately upon the date of the marriage, without having to return to court for an additional court order.
However, the supported spouse’s remarriage does not change the paying spouse’s obligation to make a lump-sum alimony payment or property transfer—these obligations generally survive a remarriage.
Only a legal marriage will automatically terminate alimony obligations. For instance, in one Florida case, a former wife receiving alimony had moved in with another man, held a public ceremony where they exchanged rings and vows and presented themselves publicly as “partners in life”. But, this “ceremony” did not automatically terminate alimony since it wasn’t a legal marriage. In cases like these, the paying spouse will need to file a motion in court and ask a judge to terminate or reduce alimony.
Termination or Modification of Alimony in Florida
If you are paying alimony and either you or your ex-spouse has a significant change in financial circumstances, you may want to terminate or modify alimony. First, you should try to see if your ex-spouse will agree to change the alimony amount.
For example, if your ex-spouse is living with someone who is providing financial support, your ex may agree that you shouldn’t have to pay alimony anymore. In this case, you should both sign an agreement, either modifying or ending alimony, and file it with the circuit court clerk’s office.
If your ex-spouse does not agree to end alimony, you’ll need to file a written request asking the court to terminate or modify alimony. At your hearing, you should prepare to show evidence of the change in either you or your ex-spouse’s financial circumstances.
Impact of Cohabitation on Alimony in Florida
Florida courts have the power to modify or terminate alimony when the supported spouse begins cohabiting with another person. Florida law defines cohabitation as any living arrangement in which the supported spouse is living with and receiving financial assistance from another person not related by blood or marriage.
Because cohabitation creates a financially supportive relationship that can substitute for a marital relationship, courts often reduce or terminate alimony when the supported spouse is cohabiting with another person.
Florida courts consider many factors when deciding if the supported spouse is cohabiting with another person, including:
- whether the new living partners claim to be married, use the same last name, or use the same mailing address
- how long the supported spouse has lived with the other person
- how much financial assistance the cohabitant and supported spouse provide to each other
- whether the cohabitant and supported spouse work together, or one works for the other
- whether the cohabitant and supported spouse have purchased property together, and
- any other factor that shows a financial relationship between the cohabitant and supported spouse.
If you’re paying alimony, and you believe your ex-spouse is cohabiting with someone, you should consider filing a motion to terminate or modify alimony in your local circuit court. Once you set a hearing date, it will be up to you to prove the supportive relationship to the court.
Original article by divorcenet.