Does a New Relationship Mean the End of Alimony?
Following a Florida divorce, many people will eventually find themselves in a new relationship. If the spouse who is receiving alimony enters a new relationship, there could potentially be significant legal ramifications. Both parties need to aware of how this could affect any alimony obligations. If you have any questions about spousal support payments and new relationships, please contact an experienced Orlando alimony lawyer for immediate legal assistance.
Florida Law: New Relationships and Alimony
The issue of new relationships and alimony obligations is covered by Florida Statute 61.14. Under the standard set out in this statute, a court may reduce, or terminate, alimony obligations if the person receiving alimony payments:
- Has entered a new relationship;
- In which they are cohabiting with the other party; and
- The relationship is deemed ‘supportive’.
Essentially, a new relationship will impact alimony payments when that relationship has many similar characteristics to a new marriage. It is important to note that there is no requirement that a new marriage actually occurs. In fact, under an old standard, alimony payments could not be reduced unless the receiving spouse actually got re-married. This changed when Florida legislators began to realize that some people were intentionally foregoing a new marriage simply in order to keep receiving alimony. The law has now been amended to simply require that a new ‘supportive relationship’ be proven before alimony obligations will be altered.
Proving a Supportive Relationship
In order to reduce alimony responsibilities on the grounds that a new supportive relationship exists, you must prove that relationship before a Florida court. In this regard, Florida courts will use a ‘preponderance of evidence’ standard. Ultimately, this means that the party seeking to reduce their alimony obligations must prove that there is at least a 51 percent likelihood that their former spouse is in a new supportive relationship. In Florida, elements of a qualifying ‘supportive relationship, include:
- Length of cohabitation: The longer two people live together, the easier it will be to prove to the court that they are in a supportive relationship. If a couple has been living under the same roof for a single month, a Florida court will be very reluctant to conclude that a supportive relationship actually exists. However, if several years have passed, courts will be much more likely to believe that a supportive relationship exists.
- Marriage-like actions of the couple: Any ‘marriage-like’ actions are important. This could include a wide variety of things. For example, if a mutual friend can testify to the fact that the new couple has been referring to each other as ‘husband’ and ‘wife,’ that strongly suggests a supportive relationship.
- Pooling of assets: Finally, asset pooling also indicates a supportive relationship. It may be the single strongest piece of evidence that you can present. A joint bank account, shared bills, or other shared financial responsibilities are all characteristic of a supportive relationship.
Need Legal Advice?
At the Law Offices of Steve W. Marsee, P.A., our team has extensive experience handling Florida alimony issues. This includes dealing with alimony modification cases. Our firm is compassionate and we understand how sensitive family law issues are, but we are also ready to fight aggressively on your behalf. If you have any questions about new relationships and alimony, or Florida alimony in general, please contact us at our Orlando office today to set up an initial consultation.