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Avoidance or Modification of Alimony, Is Your Ex Shacking Up? by Serena Baldacchino, Daytona Family Law Attorney

Recent revisions to Florida alimony law have clarified what the courts will consider when ruling on an initial award of alimony or a petition to modify or terminate alimony based on the would-be recipient’s/recipient’s “supportive relationship.” These revisions recognize that the financial needs of the party who is seeking an award of alimony, or already has an alimony award, may be reduced when such a supportive relationship exists.

Pursuant to the relevant statutes, the court must take the existence and extent of supportive relationships into consideration when ruling on an initial award of alimony. Furthermore, the court must reduce or terminate an award of alimony if the court makes specific written findings that a supportive relationship has existed between the recipient of the alimony and a third party who is not related by blood or marriage to the recipient.

The courts will now consider several factors when determining the nature of the relationship between the party seeking alimony, or already awarded alimony, and the third-party and the extent to which the alimony should be awarded, reduced, or even terminated. The burden in avoiding or reducing an initial award of alimony due to a supportive relationship of the would-be recipient is on the party seeking such avoidance/reduction. Likewise, the burden in reducing or terminating an existing award of alimony is, of course, on the payor.  The party with this initial burden must prove that the would-be recipient or recipient of alimony has been in a supportive relationship for at least one year prior to the filing of the dissolution of marriage petition or the supplemental petition to modify/terminate alimony. Once the party seeking to avoid, modify, or terminate alimony proves the supportive relationship exists, the burden then shifts to the party seeking alimony, or alimony recipient, to prove why the courts should not deny or reduce an initial award of alimony or reduce or terminate such an award due to the existence of a supportive relationship.

In rendering its decision, the courts will consider several factors, just a few of which are: whether the would-be recipient/recipient and third party cohabit, the duration of any cohabitation, whether they hold themselves out as a married couple, whether they have joint bank accounts or financial interdependence, and whether they have jointly contributed to the purchase of any real or personal property.

So, if you pay alimony to your ex-spouse (or seek to avoid having to do so in the first place) and believe s/he is now in a supportive relationship, remember that every dark cloud has a silver lining and call one of our experienced Family Law attorneys at the Rice Law Firm to discuss.