At the Law Offices of James S. Cunha, our attorneys frequently receive inquiries from clients regarding modification of their obligation to pay alimony to a former spouse. Questions about modification of spousal support often arise when the recipient of alimony begins living with someone new. Although a payor former spouse may seek a reduction of their obligation to pay alimony for this reason, cohabitation alone does not necessarily justify a reduction in spousal support.
Under Fla. Stat. § 61.141(1)(b), a party may seek a modification of alimony if one’s spouse is in a “supportive relationship.” Since remarriage terminates the obligation to pay alimony, a former spouse may therefore have an incentive to continue to live together in a “de facto” marital relationship in order to avoid termination of spousal support. When making a determination as to whether a former spouse’s cohabitation arrangement justifies a modification of alimony, the court will consider a number of factors, including the following:
- Duration of cohabitation in a permanent residence
- Extent the parties have worked together to produce or improve something of value
- Degree that either party has worked for the other’s business or employer
- Evidence suggesting an express or implied agreement regarding sharing of assets or financial support
- Whether they have pooled their financial resources and income or kept them segregated
- If either has performed services of value for the other or the other’s business
- Whether either party has supported the other
- Joint purchases of property (real or personal)
- Support provided by one of the parties to the children of the other
The process of evaluating these factors can be complicated and may require extensive discovery of bank records, deeds, title documents, and other evidence. In order to make a compelling case structured by these statutory factors, the evidence must be presented in a persuasive and articulate manner. Our attorneys conduct a careful and thorough investigation of the facts in order to determine whether the statutory factors apply. A reduction of a former spouse’s financial need due to a supportive relationship may be one avenue to achieving a modification of alimony; however, a modification of alimony may also be justified if it can be shown that a former spouse is partially supporting a new partner.