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The Impact of Cohabitation on Alimony in Florida

As the primary income-earner in your now-former marital home, you may have no issue in providing your ex-spouse with a degree of financial support until they are able to sustain themselves in their post-marital lives. However, no one wants their ex-spouse to take advantage of them. Fortunately, there are options if you are concerned your ex-spouse is attempting to do so by refusing to remarry a new partner in the hopes it will leave you obligated to continue to pay alimony.

One legal remedy: modification of the alimony agreement.

Cohabitating vs. Remarrying and the Potential for a Modification of an Alimony Agreement

It is not uncommon for partners to choose to cohabitate. However, legal remedies are available if an ex-spouse chooses to cohabitate instead of remarrying solely to continue to receive alimony payments. In general, there are three perquisites to modify an alimony agreement in Florida:

  • There was a change. First, the individual looking to change the alimony agreement must establish that there was a substantial change in circumstances.
  • The agreement did not take into account this change. The party filing for the modification would also need to establish that the couple did not discuss the change at issue during the divorce proceeding.
  • Finally, that the change is “sufficient, material, involuntary and permanent in nature” to warrant a modification.

Florida state law also directly addresses cohabitation and modification of alimony. It authorizes the court to terminate or reduce alimony payments if there is a finding that “a supportive relationship has existed between the oblige and a person with home the oblige resides.”

The Need to Establish Cohabitation

In this situation, the state generally places the burden of proof on the ex-spouse making the alimony payments. The courts will generally not agree to a change if the only evidence present is the fact that the ex is simply living with a new partner. Rather, the court will often require evidence the ex-spouse and their new partner support each other financially. Examples could include acting in a manner expected of a permanent supportive relationship, comingling finances, jointly purchasing property, supporting each other’s children and the amount of time they have resided together. Evidence could include copies of bank statements, shared cellphone or credit card bills, testimony from witnesses or video footage.

Moving Forward With an Alimony Modification

The next step will likely require filing a motion to terminate or modify an alimony agreement with the court. It is important to get all relevant evidence in order to help better ensure the motion moves forward successfully.

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