Jacksonville Alimony Modification Attorneys
If you are paying alimony in Florida, it might be possible to have your alimony obligation modified or terminated. The standard basic circumstances for having an alimony obligation terminated are usually specifically stated in each divorce decree. Those basic circumstances are the death of either party or the remarriage of the receiving party. Should any of those situations arise then any modifiable alimony is automatically terminated. That is basic stuff though, and if you are paying alimony in Florida, then chances are good that you have already researched that information on your own.
Modifying Your Florida Alimony Obligation
There is something that perhaps you didn’t know about modifying your alimony obligation: It is possible to have your alimony obligation reduced or terminated even if your former spouse doesn’t die or remarry.
At this point you are probably wondering “how is that possible?” The answer is that Florida has enacted a statute pertaining to alimony modifications that applies specifically to situations where the receiving spouse is cohabitating with a person not related by consanguinity and engaging in a supportive relationship with that person. This statute, §61.13(1)(b), was actually the codification of body of case law in Florida created for situations where the former spouse receiving alimony is engaged in a relationship that is essentially a marriage for all intents and purposes with the exception of actually having a marriage license. That is an important distinction because Florida does not recognize common law marriages. So essentially a person can live a “married life” with a new partner, while the former spouse continues to pay them alimony. The courts decided that was largely unfair and the legislature followed suit by enacting the aforementioned statute.
The statute provides that the court can consider a number of factors when determining whether or not the receiving party, or obligee, is engaged in a supportive relationship:
a. The extent to which the obligee and the other person have held themselves out as a married couple by engaging in conduct such as using the same last name, using a common mailing address, referring to each other in terms such as “my husband” or “my wife,” or otherwise conducting themselves in a manner that evidences a permanent supportive relationship.
b. The period of time that the obligee has resided with the other person in a permanent place of abode.
c. The extent to which the obligee and the other person have pooled their assets or income or otherwise exhibited financial interdependence.
d. The extent to which the obligee or the other person has supported the other, in whole or in part.
e. The extent to which the obligee or the other person has performed valuable services for the other.
f. The extent to which the obligee or the other person has performed valuable services for the other’s company or employer.
g. Whether the obligee and the other person have worked together to create or enhance anything of value.
h. Whether the obligee and the other person have jointly contributed to the purchase of any real or personal property.
i. Evidence in support of a claim that the obligee and the other person have an express agreement regarding property sharing or support.
j. Evidence in support of a claim that the obligee and the other person have an implied agreement regarding property sharing or support.
k. Whether the obligee and the other person have provided support to the children of one another, regardless of any legal duty to do so.
Defining the Burden of Proof to the Spouse Receiving Alimony
If these factors are present and the judge finds that there is a supportive relationship, then the burden of proof shifts to the obligee, or receiving spouse, to prove that they are still in need of financial support. If they cannot show a need, the alimony can be terminated. If they can show a need, but that need is less than it was at the time of divorce, then the alimony can be modified downward to fit the obligee’s current need.
If you believe that this scenario is present in your case, or if you have any questions regarding this emerging area of alimony law, then give Makofka and Makofka a call at (904) 355-2700 and one of our experienced family law attorneys will be happy to assist you.