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What Are Supportive Relationships?

After a divorce, there’s always a chance that one spouse will have to pay alimony to the other. Alimony payments serve an important purpose. Alimony is seen as necessary financial assistance to the spouse that earns significantly less than the other. But what happens if these circumstances change in the future? What if your ex-spouse meets someone new and moves in with this person? Does this change the amount you pay? Can this new supportive relationship terminate alimony payments altogether? These and other questions are answered in this summary of supportive relationships and their effect on alimony payments after a divorce.

Can Alimony be Modified or Terminated?

First and foremost, it’s important to remember that alimony can be modified due to a number of factors besides remarriage or death. For instance, a significant change in income or cost of living could modify alimony payments. Even tax laws, a sudden disability, or financial emergencies could all spark an adjustment in alimony payments. In addition, if the person receiving alimony payments becomes involved in a supportive relationship that provides financial assistance, this could also be a reason why alimony payments are modified.

What Are Supportive Relationships?

Florida legislature passed the Supportive Relationship Statute in 2005. This opened the door to legally adjusting alimony payments if the alimony recipient is receiving financial assistance from a new supportive relationship. The entire point of the legislation was to prevent an alimony recipient from receiving regular alimony payments as well as substantial financial support from a new relationship. However, this legislation never specifically defined what a supportive relationship is, making it difficult to prove that this relationship exists. Divorce attorneys and alimony payers are responsible for providing evidence that an ex-spouse is in a supportive relationship that offers considerable financial assistance.

How Do You Prove a Supportive Relationship Exists?

It’s important to note that if you strongly believe that your ex-spouse is in a supportive relationship, you can’t simply stop your alimony payments based on these beliefs. As stated above, this needs to be proven in a court of law. A judge will only terminate the payments if the supportive relationship is proven “by a preponderance of the evidence”. The alimony recipient is not responsible for disproving any of the evidence that is brought forward by the spouse paying alimony. The judge will review various economic and lifestyle factors before he or she can determine if alimony payments should be modified. For instance:

  • How long have the two individuals been living together? Would this location be considered a permanent residence for both of them? Florida courts will want to know the extent of time of their cohabitation. The longer they’ve lived together, the more likely the chances are of proving a supportive relationship exists.
  • What does the relationship look like? Are they in a romantic relationship? Is it a business relationship? Are they open about this relationship in public? A judge might ask about how the two individuals met and how they spend their time together.
  • Are they sharing assets? Do they have joint bank accounts? Do they split bills down the middle or is one person paying utilities and rent? If they’re sharing assets and bills or if the new partner is providing all of this, it’s more likely to be labeled as a supportive relationship.
  • Have they purchased properties together? Have they made any sizable purchases together? For instance, if they both purchased a car that they share and pay for together, this could be a strong sign of a supportive relationship.  

What Does NOT Qualify as a Supportive Relationship?

To properly understand what a supportive relationship is, it helps to know what is NOT a supportive relationship. If your ex-spouse moves in with their parents after the divorce, this is not considered a supportive relationship. Even if your ex-spouse is receiving financial assistance from their parents, it’s still not a supportive relationship. Blood relatives or relatives through marriage do not count as supportive relationships. In addition, if your ex-spouse is cohabiting with a friend, boyfriend, or girlfriend, but they keep all of their finances completely separate, it’s not considered a supportive relationship. Remember that spouses paying alimony need to be able to prove that substantial financial assistance exists.

For More Information on Supportive Relationships

If you’re currently paying alimony, but you believe your ex-spouse is in a supportive relationship, action should be taken. It’s unjust to make payments if their financial lifestyle has significantly changed. Since it is challenging to prove a supportive relationship in court, it’s highly recommended to work with an attorney. An experienced Boca Raton cohabitation lawyer can provide you with the guidance you need in these circumstances. They’re experts in alimony modifications and providing evidence to prove a supportive relationship exists. Contact a divorce attorney today to learn more!