Cohabitation Issues Following Divorce
Does cohabitation serve as grounds to terminate alimony payments?
Florida Statute 61.14 was amended in 2005 to provide guidelines for termination of alimony when it could be proven that the recipient of the alimony award was cohabitating with another and that a “supportive relationship” existed between them. This is a change to an earlier law that only allowed the termination of alimony in the case of re-marriage of the recipient, or a significant change in financial circumstances of either party.
The party who has been required to pay the alimony must prove “through a preponderance of the evidence” that such a supportive relationship exists between the recipient and the person with whom they are cohabitating. Proving such a case in Jacksonville requires the help of a
skilled family law attorney who can aggressively deal with the challenges this matter presents.
Criteria for “Supportive Relationships”
A number of criteria were delineated to be used to determine the validity of the supportive relationship of the couple in question. Some of those criteria are:
- Whether the conduct of the couple in question is put forth as if they are a married couple (e.g. using the same last name, sharing a common mailing address, using the phrase “my husband” or “my wife” when referring to the other, etc.)
- The length of time of cohabitation at a permanent abode.
- The degree to which their income or assets have been combined, showing that their financial affairs are interdependent.
- How much support either party receives from the other.
- Whether they have made a shared purchase of real estate or personal property.
- Whether it can be proven that they have agreements regarding shared property or support.
- Whether they have supported the child or children of the other.
The amended statute does not require proof of a conjugal relationship, which means that this statute can apply to even a platonic relationship, and that gender has no bearing on how the cohabitation relationship is viewed. This could become a complicated issue and it requires the skills of an experienced Jacksonville family lawyer.