Reduction of Alimony by Live-In Relationships in Florida

In alimony cases, living with someone may reduce or eliminate the need for alimony when the live-in relationship is found to be substantially equivalent to a remarriage. In a recently decided case captioned Bruce v. Bruce, the wife appealed the trial court’s refusal to award her alimony. The parties were married for twenty years. They had three children. The wife worked part time and took care of the children during the day. The wife had serious medical issues, including being hearing impaired and having permanent arthritis, and was a cancer survivor. The wife moved out of the marital home and into an apartment with her boyfriend. The wife denied that she was in a supportive relationship with her boyfriend. The wife contended that she owes her boyfriend back rent, which she intends to repay in the future. The wife contended that she pays for her own phone, electric and water bills and pays for her own groceries. The wife and her boyfriend have no joint financial accounts, they have no joint investments and they do not jointly own personal or real property.

The lower court denied alimony to the wife because it found that the wife had entered into a supportive relationship with her boyfriend. The Florida Court of Appeal held that under the Florida law, it is appropriate for trial courts to consider party’s supportive relationships in awarding alimony. The Court of Appeals directed Florida trial courts to look at the particular circumstances of each case. Florida courts are to utilize the factors contained in the Florida Statutes to determine whether alimony should be reduced or denied where there is a supportive relationship. The court defined supportive relationships to be relationships that take the financial place of marriages. Supportive relationships decrease the financial need of former spouses. The financial support in a supportive relationship is equivalent to a marriage and permits the reduction or elimination of the need for alimony. However, financial support alone does not create a supportive relationship. The court is required to look at the nature of the live-in relationship and the length of time the relationship has existed. Only when the relationship is the equivalent to a remarriage is the reduction or elimination of an alimony obligation warranted. The trial court must look into the extent and nature of the supportive relationship and how the relationship permanently reduces a party’s need for alimony.

To speak with an alimony attorney in Wellington, Florida, contact Matthew La ne & Associates, P.A. at (561) 363-3400.