I was divorced 5 years ago after an 18-year marriage. I pay $3,500 per month in permanent alimony. My ex, although not remarried, has been living with someone for over one year. Can I stop paying alimony because of this relationship?
You question raises several issues. First, your alimony would have to be modifiable for the presence of this new relationship to make a difference. Awards of rehabilitative, durational and permanent alimony are generally modifiable unless there is an agreement in place stating otherwise. Based on your question, you ex may be in a “supportive relationship” and the presence of such a relationship has the potential to warrant a reduction in your alimony obligation.
You have to demonstrate a substantial change in circumstances to support an alimony modification. Florida recognizes that an alimony recipient’s participation in a “supportive relationship” may provide the substantial change in circumstances needed to eliminate or decrease the alimony recipient’s need for further support. The law does not define a “supportive relationship” but it lists eleven factors to be considered; nine of which are economic in nature. Some states will find a supportive relationship based solely on cohabitation but not Florida. Florida focuses on the economic impacts of the relationship. An economic contribution by a third-party cohabitant is the essential element to the existence of a supportive relationship.
If your ex is living with someone and receives economic support equivalent to that of a marriage, you may be able to reduce or eliminate your alimony obligation. You will have to demonstrate that the alimony recipient’s needs have actually been reduced. Proving a supportive relationship can be complicated so be sure to have an experienced family law attorney assist you.