How Cohabitation Can Affect Alimony
One of the issues that must be addressed before a couple can finalize their divorce is whether one of the parties will be required to pay alimony to the other. Generally, if alimony is awarded, it is because one of the spouses earns less than the other or made career and/or education sacrifices to help support the other spouse. Alimony doesn’t, however, always last forever. In fact, courts won’t usually award permanent alimony unless a marriage lasted for more than 17 years. Even if a judge does award permanent alimony, it can be terminated at a later date. The remarriage of the receiving spouse, or even cohabitation with a new partner are two of the most common reasons for the termination of alimony.
What Qualifies as Cohabitation?
If a spouse who pays alimony can prove that a recipient spouse is cohabitating with a new partner, then a judge could order reduced payments or even terminate alimony altogether. However, to qualify as cohabitation, the person receiving alimony must be living with a new partner, with whom he or she is also engaged in a supportive relationship. Establishing the latter often proves to be the more difficult part of seeking to terminate alimony. Under Florida law, a supportive relationship means that the person receiving alimony:
- Is also receiving support from a new partner; and
- Contributes to the support of the new partner.
A court will need to assess whether the alleged support being exchanged between the new partners is equivalent to the level of support that one would receive and give during marriage. If a relationship is deemed to meet this standard, then a court could reduce or terminate alimony.
What Doesn’t Qualify as a Supportive Relationship?
There are also situations that simply won’t even qualify as a supportive relationship. For instance, a former spouse moving in with someone with whom he or she is related by blood or marriage isn’t considered a supportive relationship, even if that person is providing financial support to the other. A supportive relationship also doesn’t exist where someone is residing with a non-relative, but the two parties don’t support each other, or choose to keep their finances wholly separate. Even if a relationship were to qualify as supportive, a former spouse can’t just automatically stop paying alimony. Instead, he or she will need to prove to the court, by a preponderance of the evidence (it is more likely than not), that the receiving spouse is in a supportive relationship and no longer requires alimony payments.
Contact Experienced Fort Lauderdale Alimony Lawyer Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. Today
Disputes concerning alimony are common, even after divorce. If your former spouse is claiming that he or she no longer owes you alimony, or if you believe that your former spouse is living with a new romantic partner and no longer requires financial support, we can provide you with the help you need. To learn more, call 954-945-7591 and set up a meeting with dedicated Fort Lauderdale alimony lawyer Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. You can also reach a member of our legal team via online message.