It is not at all uncommon for a strong Florida marriage to move through a period of flux. Change is, after all, an important characteristic of the human condition. Children are born. Sometimes, a spouse returns to graduate school. A spouse takes a new job that requires uprooting the family. A change in conditions can occur after the dissolution of a marriage, as well. Life isn’t frozen by the entry of a final divorce decree. Both spouses move on; it’s healthy to do so. What happens if a spouse who has been awarded alimony during the divorce proceeding decides to remarry? How does remarriage affect alimony?
General Rule: Remarriage by the Person Receiving Alimony Results in Termination of Payment
The “remarriage and alimony” issue is largely determined by statute. The first rule should come as no surprise: The remarriage of the person paying alimony is not the sort of change of condition that warrants reduction or elimination of the alimony payments.
Things are different if the person receiving alimony remarries. In such cases, § 61.08, Fla. Stat. provides that durational alimony, bridge-the-gap alimony, and permanent alimony are terminated. It is interesting to note that the statute does not provide for the automatic termination of “rehabilitative” alimony. The court can, however, modify rehabilitative alimony where there is a showing of substantial change in circumstances. Remarriage, in many situations, would constitute such a substantial change.
What If My “Ex” Doesn’t Actually Remarry, But Rather Moves in With Someone?
Particularly in current times, where there is little, if any, stigma attached to cohabitation, some former spouses who receive alimony are quite happy to move in with a new “significant other” and avoid the remarriage penalty contained in § 61.08. Florida family law anticipates that scenario.
Under the provisions of § 61.14, Fla. Stat., a court is authorized to reduce or even terminate an award of alimony where the person receiving alimony has entered into a “supportive relationship.” Generally speaking, if the ex-spouse moves in or cohabitates with a boyfriend, girlfriend, or even a non-romantic friend, the court may recognize the situation as a supportive relationship, so long as the two individuals share expenses or otherwise support each other financially.
Cohabitation Does Not Always Equal Supportive Relationship
According to the statute, a supportive relationship is not formed if the ex-spouse moves in with a person related by blood or marriage. For example, if your former spouse moves in with a brother or sister, even if that brother or sister supports your ex-spouse, there is no disqualifying supportive relationship. Somewhat similarly, where the ex-spouse is living with a non-relative, but where each person supports himself or herself, without a sharing of resources, the court will generally determine that no supportive relationship has been formed.
Experienced Legal Counsel is Important in Modifying or Terminating Alimony
Has your former spouse remarried? Has the ex-spouse, to whom you pay alimony, begun to live with a non-relative? Has there been a significant change in the circumstances that were present at the time of your divorce? In any of these situations, you may be entitled to modification or termination of alimony. Retaining an experienced, skilled attorney may be crucial, however, to establishing your right to such a modification or termination. The Duval/St. Johns County area law firm of Beller & Bustamante, P.L. can help you sort through your situation. We have the skill and experience to represent your interests vigorously when it comes to any family law issue. Contact us online or call us at (904) 288-4414 today.