Could My New Relationship Affect My Alimony Award?
It is not uncommon after a divorce, for the individuals involved to enter into a new relationship at some point. These new relationships can, however, affect certain aspects of a person’s divorce, even when those proceedings have concluded, so if you are entering into a new relationship and are also receiving alimony payments from a former spouse, or are currently making alimony payments to a former spouse who is now cohabitating with someone else, it is critical to speak with an experienced Fort Lauderdale alimony lawyer about how the elements of that relationship could affect eligibility for alimony.
When are Alimony Awards Appropriate?
Under Florida law, those who are financially dependent on a former spouse are often entitled to alimony, or spousal maintenance, at least for a period of time. This is an especially common scenario in cases that involve a spouse who provided a couple’s sole income, while the other spouse was primarily responsible for childcare. In these situations, it is not uncommon for the spouse with no independent income or lost work experience to struggle financially upon divorce. Alimony awards are intended to help address this problem and are typically ordered for the amount of time that it would take the lesser earning party to obtain employment or job training. There are, however, other events that could trigger the termination of alimony payments.
For many years, there were only a few triggering events that were recognized by Florida courts as automatically terminating alimony payments, including:
- The death of either spouse;
- The remarriage of the spouse receiving alimony; or
- A significant change in circumstances experienced by either party.
In 2005, however, Florida lawmakers provided another way that an alimony award could be modified or terminated, namely upon proof of the existence of a supportive relationship. This change was made primarily to address situations wherein alimony recipients purposely postpone their marriages to a new partner in order to continue receiving payments. As a result of this change, a person who is paying alimony can terminate those payments if he or she can prove that the recipient, although unmarried, is cohabitating with a new partner and that:
- The cohabitant provides support to the recipient spouse; or
- The recipient spouse contributes to the support of the cohabitant.
Evidence of this relationship could include everything from a shared mailing address and a pooling of assets to the joint acquisition of property and the sharing of household bills. It is important to note, however, that familial cohabitation doesn’t qualify as a supportive relationship under this standard.
Call Today for Help with Your Case
New relationships can have a significant impact on many aspects of a divorce case, including alimony awards, so if you have questions about whether your relationship with your new partner meets the standard of a supportive relationship, or if you believe that a former spouse is still unfairly collecting alimony, you need the advice of an alimony lawyer. Speaking to experienced Fort Lauderdale alimony attorney Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. is free of charge. Contact us at 954-945-7591 or complete one of our online contact forms to get in touch with a member of our legal team today.