Alimony is a factor in many divorces throughout Florida. Alimony provides a spouse with financial support when they are expected to be in the weaker financial position after the divorce concludes. In most cases, the spouse who made less money or made certain sacrifices to take care of domestic duties, such as childcare, is the spouse who receives alimony from the other.
Alimony can be ordered on a temporary or permanent basis, but there are a few ways it can end early. The most common reasons why alimony ends early include the death of either spouse, the remarriage of the receiving spouse, or the receiving spouse’s cohabitation with a new intimate partner.
The last of these reasons, cohabitation, and how it relates to alimony isn’t well understood by a lot of divorced people. That said, it can have significant consequences for the future of an alimony order if cohabitation is a factor after your divorce.
What Is Cohabitation?
Under Florida law, cohabitation refers to a supportive relationship between two parties. Merely living together, however, isn’t enough to say two people are cohabiting. Likewise, it’s not requires for two people to live together 100% of the time to say they are cohabiting.
There are various factors the court will evaluate when asked to determine if two people are cohabiting, such as these:
- Whether or not the two parties consider themselves a married couple or act as a married couple would act
- Whether the spouse receiving alimony is using their new partner’s last name and/or mailing address
- How long the couple has lived together
- Whether or not the parties’ finances are intertwined; and if so, the extent to which they are
- Whether or not the new partner financial supports an ex-spouse’s children
- Any joint purchases for real estate or other significant property
- Any evidence that would demonstrate that the couple presents and/or conducts themselves in a manner that would suggest they are in a permanent and mutually supportive relationship
As you can see, some of these factors aren’t as black and white as you might expect. Whether or not two people are cohabiting is not an easy question to answer because it involves a lot more than where someone lives or spends most of their time.
How Cohabitation Can Affect Alimony
Cohabitation can affect an alimony order by reducing or ending it. Because the purpose of alimony is to provide financial support for a spouse who is expected to need it, that spouse’s cohabitation with a new partner implies someone else is providing that support.
If someone believes their ex-spouse is cohabiting with a new partner, they can file a petition with the court to modify alimony.
Proving that two people are cohabiting, however, isn’t easy. It requires a substantial amount of evidence that can be difficult to gather. Things such as financial records, leases, and other documents, however, can be subpoenaed during discovery to shed more light on the extent to which two people may be cohabiting.
Contact Us for Legal Assistance
Tinny, Meyer & Piccarreto, P.A. can provide the legal support you need during difficult times. Whether you need to protect your alimony against accusations of cohabitating or believe your ex-spouse is supported by their new partner, we can offer the legal guidance and services necessary to overcome your obstacles.
Learn more about modifications and how Tinny, Meyer & Piccarreto, P.A. can help when you contact us online today.