Throughout divorce proceedings, alimony may be granted to either spouse.
There are several types of alimony awards. Some are granted to “bridge the gap” between spouses, ensuring both can be self-supporting following divorce. Others are intended to give one spouse financial support on a limited or permanent basis. Alimony may also be used to reimburse one spouse’s contributions throughout the marriage.
The most common type of alimony is called “periodic.” It consists of payments made from one spouse to another according to a set schedule. There are several factors that determine if, and how much, alimony will be granted, including:
- The standard of living reached during the marriage
- The length of the marriage
- The health and age of both spouses
- The financial resources of each spouse
- The earning potential of each spouse
- The contributions of each spouse during the marriage
- The childcare responsibility of each spouse
Remarriage and Alimony
Getting remarried can change the way alimony functions for a former spouse. Periodic alimony may end as soon as the supported spouse remarries. The paying spouse is able to stop making payments as soon as the marriage is official without returning to court.
However, other types of alimony do not end with remarriage. For example, if the paying spouse is obligated to make a lump-sum payment or a property transfer, the agreement will likely survive remarriage.
Cohabitation and Alimony
There are circumstances in which alimony may be terminated based on a former spouse’s cohabitation with another individual. Florida courts reserve the right to modify or terminate alimony at this time, assuming the living arrangement includes financial assistance from another person that is not related by blood or marriage.
Several factors are considered when the request to reduce or terminate alimony based on cohabitation is made, including:
- How long the cohabitation has lasted
- How much financial assistance the cohabitant and former spouse provide to one another
- Whether the cohabitant and former spouse work together
- Whether the cohabitant and former spouse have purchased property together
- Whether the cohabitant and former spouse claim to be married or use the same last name
If you believe your former spouse is cohabitating with someone and no longer requires alimony, the time has come to meet with an attorney who specializes in family law to discuss filing a petition with the court.
Termination or Modification of Alimony
There are several ways to modify or terminate alimony. The most preferred option, of course, is to simply discuss the issue with your former spouse to see if they will agree to change the alimony amount. In this case, you can each sign an agreement and file it with the local clerk’s office, which will then need to be approved by a Judge in the form of a Court order.
If this is not possible, you will need to file a written petition asking the court to modify or terminate alimony. At the hearing, you should be prepared to show proof that your former spouse’s living/financial arrangements have changed.
Contact an Experienced Divorce Lawyer for Assistance
Chances are, settling on the initial terms of your alimony was already difficult. Remarriage or cohabitation can change the rules of the game — and further complicate an already frustrating situation.
Fortunately, Attorney Eric C. Cheshire has over 25 years of specialized experience in all areas of family law. Contact an experienced divorce lawyer today at the Law Offices of Eric C. Cheshire P.A., in West Palm Beach by calling (561) 677-8090.