Alimony, spousal support, and spousal maintenance all refer to money paid by one ex-spouse to another after a divorce. The idea behind alimony is that, if one spouse depended on the other financially during the marriage, that spouse cannot become financially independent immediately after divorce. Florida alimony laws are quite favorable to the spouse receiving alimony payments. In fact, Florida is one of only a few states that can require the supporting spouse to continue making alimony payments indefinitely.
A change in the financial situation of one or both parties can lead to a modification of the spousal support order. One of the most common reasons for early termination of alimony payments is if the supported spouse remarries. As with so many legal issues, though, there is a gray area in which judges must consider the unique circumstances of the couple in deciding whether to terminate or reduce alimony payments.
Lump Sum vs. Monthly Payments
Most alimony payments in Florida take the form of periodic alimony, meaning that the supporting spouse pays the supported spouse a certain amount of money each month. Bridge-the-gap alimony is intended to help the supported spouse through the transitional period of divorce and cannot exceed two years. Durational alimony, which is new as of 2010, lasts for a finite period of time specified in the court order. Both temporary and permanent periodic alimony stop immediately if the supported spouse remarries.
Instead of periodic alimony, the supporting spouse might be required to pay the supported spouse a lump sum. The supporting spouse is still responsible for paying this lump sum even if the supported spouse remarries shortly after the divorce is finalized, before receiving the lump sum payment.
Cohabitation Without Remarriage
Florida law makes it clear that when supported spouses remarry, they forfeit their claim to alimony payments from their former spouses. What happens when a supported spouse moves in with a domestic partner, but they do not get legally married? Many supporting spouses make the argument that, if the supported spouse is part of a new household and is receiving financial support from a new partner, he or she is no longer entitled to receive alimony related to a previous marriage. Sometimes judges agree with them.
Florida does not recognize common law marriage. Unless the supported spouse legally remarries, Florida courts do not consider him or remarried. In some instances, supported spouses have continued to receive alimony even after exchanging wedding rings or holding a religious wedding ceremony with a new partner. If the supporting spouse can prove that the supported spouse is deriving substantial financial benefit from living with a new partner, the court may agree to modify or stop alimony payments.
Contact Alan R. Burton About Your Spousal Support Agreement
Alan R. Burton is a marital and family law attorney in Boca Raton, Florida. Contact Alan R. Burton with questions about spousal support, including if you think you are entitled to a modification of your alimony payments.