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Steve W. Marsee, P.A. Orlando Divorce Attorney
  • Experienced DIVORCE ATTORNEY

Does the Time Spent Cohabitating with Your Spouse Before Marriage Affect Your Florida Divorce?


Many couples choose to live together for years – some even decades – before getting married. During this cohabitation time, many tend to purchase a home, car, accumulate money in retirement and savings, and take on debt. All of these items are usually disputed and divided in the course of a divorce.

But does the time spent cohabitating with your spouse affect your divorce and other family law matters? When it comes to splitting assets and resolving other disputed issues in a contested divorce, courts will look at the date of the marriage and the date of separation.

If you lived with your partner for a while prior to getting married, and now you end up going through the divorce proceedings, you may be wondering how the cohabitation time might impact your divorce case.

Does Cohabitation Before Marriage Affect the Alimony Award in Florida?

In Florida, the duration of a marriage is considered for the purpose of equitable distribution of property and calculating spousal support. Particularly, the length of marriage affects the duration of alimony. There are three types of marriages in terms of their length:

  1. Short-term marriage (lasts less than 7 years);
  2. Moderate-term marriage (lasts over 7 years but less than 17); and
  3. Long-term marriage (lasts more than 17 years).

The dependent spouse who becomes divorced after a long-term marriage is more likely to be awarded permanent alimony. But what if you were cohabitating with your spouse for 11 years prior to getting married, and then filed for divorce 6 years later? Would the court consider your marriage long-term to receive permanent alimony? No, the court will only recognize your marriage as being short-term because you were married for 6 years.

Does Pre-Marriage Cohabitation with Your Spouse Impact Property Distribution?

The duration of your marriage also plays a significant role in the property distribution process. Florida courts deem any property and assets acquired in the course of the marriage as “marital property” subject to equitable distribution.

Thus, if you purchased a home in your partner’s name while cohabitating with your future spouse prior to the marriage, the court would consider this property as separate simply because it was bought before your marriage. However, there may be a way to divide this property as marital if both parties contributed to its purchase, maintenance, or upkeep. Consult with an Orlando property distribution attorney to discuss your situation.

Last but not least, dividing your retirement assets can be particularly tricky if you spent years cohabitating with your spouse prior to the marriage. After all, the retirement assets were most likely accruing during the cohabitation time. However, a spouse is entitled to the portion of their spouse’s retirement account that accrued for the duration of the marriage.

If you spent years or decades cohabitating with your spouse or were in a long-term relationship before you got married, you may want to speak with an Orlando divorce lawyer to:

  • evaluate your situation;
  • determine how the cohabitation time will affect your particular case; and
  • protect your rights.

Contact the Law Offices of Steve W. Marsee to discuss your case with our reputable and knowledgeable Orlando family attorneys. Call at 407-521-7171 to receive a consultation.

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