The purpose of alimony is to provide necessary monetary support to a financially dependent spouse, based upon a factual finding of a need of such support. Consequently, a new relationship after a divorce may constitute a significant change in circumstances, as defined in Florida Statute 61.14, that allows for a modification or termination of alimony. A new relationship can come in many forms, however, the relationships that the court is concerned with are those that result in remarriage, cohabitation or supportive relationships. Your Orlando Divorce Attorney will be able to discuss in more detail if your relationship falls into one of these categories.
The most common relationship is remarriage of a spouse. The remarriage of the obligated spouse has no effect on the alimony award. In contrast, if a receiving spouse remarries, an alimony obligation will terminate automatically on the date of marriage. The obligated spouse would not need to return to court to ask for a termination of alimony if the marriage is legally binding. However, this event does not, dismiss the award of a lump sum alimony payment. A remarried spouse is entitled to such payment withstanding marital status. However, case law considers this automatic termination, to be applicable only to legally binding marriages. Therefore, if your former spouse simply cohabitates or even holds a union ceremony with no legal significance you should contact your Orlando Divorce Attorney and petition the court for modification or termination of alimony.
A progressive benefit to Florida law is the supportive relationship caveat to the modification of alimony awards. In other states, a remarriage of the receiving spouse is the only avenue for a termination of an alimony award. However, in 2005, the Florida legislature discovered many former spouses were withholding from future marriages in order to continue receiving their alimony awards. This prompted the legislature to consider a more expansive definition of substantial change in circumstances to include a supportive relationship. When considering whether a relationship is labeled as supportive your Orlando Divorce Attorney will look at the following guidelines set by the courts:
- Length of the relationship: the longer the relationship the more weight the court will place on it.
- Sharing of bills: proof of shared utility or phone bills.
- Commingling of funds: joint bank accounts or designated beneficiaries.
- Marriage like actions: referring to one another as husband and wife, taking “family” vacations, or having children refer to them as step parents.
- Same mailing address
- Purchase of property together
However, the court does not consider a relationship between blood relatives to be supportive. For instance, your former spouse could be living with family and financially dependent on their support; yet this would not be considered a supportive relationship resulting in a change in alimony award.
The existence of a new relationship after a divorce is common for our attorneys to handle. It is important for both parties in the divorce to understand that a new relationship could potentially affect alimony payments and obligations. A knowledgeable Orlando Divorce Lawyer will discuss with you and help to gather information necessary to determine if a new relationship meets the standard. Family law issues are extremely sensitive and can be confusing, which is why having an experienced Orlando Divorce Attorney on your side is of the utmost importance. Our firm is knowledgeable, compassionate, and ready to fight your battles. We understand the complicated alimony process and can lead you through every aspect with ease. Speak to one of our Orlando divorce attorneys if you are facing an alimony case. We accept calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Contact us at 800-822-5171 orcomplete an online contact form to get in touch with a member of our team today. We also have offices in Panama City, Fort Walton, Pensacola, and Navarre Florida.