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Modifying or Terminating Alimony or Spousal Support Due to Cohabitation

After a divorce, many couples have the requirement that one former spouse pay alimony, or spousal support, to the other former spouse until that spouse remarries or either spouse dies. However, alimony awards may be modified or terminated upon a showing of significantly changed circumstances.

Cohabitation of the alimony-receiving spouse has been recognized as a change in circumstances and the basis for modification of an award. In years past, cohabitation modifications were done on a case-by-case basis; however, in 2005 the law was changed to specifically authorize the court to modify or terminate alimony upon a finding of a “supportive relationship.”

Defining Cohabitation or a Supportive Relationship

Cohabitation, or a supportive relationship, under Florida law exists when a former, alimony receiving spouse is residing with another person to whom he or she is not related. For example, when a former spouse moves in or cohabitates with a boyfriend, girlfriend, or even a platonic friend, and the two people share expenses or otherwise support each other financially, a supportive relationship may exist.

However, there are exceptions to the definition of a supportive relationship. First, a supportive relationship does not exist if the former spouse moves in with a person related by blood or marriage. So a former spouse who moves in with a sibling or parent is not in a “supportive relationship,” even if the sibling or parent is supporting them. In addition, a supportive relationship does not exist where the former spouse is living with a non-relative but the two do not support one another and keep their finances wholly separate.

Florida Cohabitation Law

Florida law section 61.14 codifies the requirements for what can be considered in order to modify or terminate an alimony award because the receiving spouse is in a supportive relationship. According to the law, “in determining whether an existing award of alimony should be reduced or terminated because of an alleged supportive relationship . . . the court shall elicit the nature and extent of the relationship in question.” In order to do so, the court considers the following:

  •  The extent to which the alimony receiving spouse and the other person have held themselves out as a married couple by engaging in conduct such as using the same last name, using a common mailing address, referring to each other in terms such as “my husband” or “my wife,” or otherwise conducting themselves in a manner that evidences a permanent supportive relationship.
  • The period of time that the receiving spouse has resided with the other person
  • The extent to which the receiving spouse and the other person have pooled their assets or income or otherwise exhibited financial interdependence.
  • The extent to which the receiving spouse or the other person has supported the other, in whole or in part.
  • The extent to which the receiving spouse or the other person has performed valuable services for the other.
  • The extent to which the receiving spouse or the other person has performed valuable services for the other’s company or employer.
  • Whether the receiving spouse and the other person have worked together to create or enhance anything of value.
  • Whether the receiving spouse and the other person have jointly contributed to the purchase of any real or personal property.
  • Evidence in support of a claim that the receiving spouse and the other person have an express agreement regarding property sharing or support.
  • Evidence in support of a claim that the receiving spouse and the other person have an implied agreement regarding property sharing or support.
  • Whether the receiving spouse and the other person have provided support to the children of one another, regardless of any legal duty to do so.

Call an Orlando Family Law Attorney Today

If you or a loved one has questions regarding alimony or other family law matters in Orlando or the surrounding area, let the Orlando family law attorneys at Steve W. Marsee, P.A. help. Call or contact the office today for a free and confidential consultation of your case.

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