The topic of spousal support is one of the most contentious areas in family law. Many Florida residents feel strongly about the issue, and there are people who stand firmly on one side or the other. The matter has become something of a national conversation, with some states taking action to limit the length of time that alimony should be paid, while others consider legislation that would alter how spousal support is allocated, determined and eventually stopped. For those who are preparing to divorce, it is crucial that the language in a divorce agreement addressing spousal support is clear.
One issue that can lead to eventual litigation involves the conditions under which alimony could be terminated. Most agreements state that if the recipient of alimony remarries, the payments immediately cease. Most agreements do not, however, address what will happen if the recipient enters into a relationship that includes cohabitation and a commitment to live as a couple but does not cross the threshold into a legal marriage.
The following is a scenario that occurs frequently. A person who receives alimony begins a new relationship, and that union progresses into a serious, long-term commitment. However, the couple agrees not to wed because one party is still receiving financial support from a former spouse. Because the divorce agreement does not specifically address cohabitation, the payments must continue.
Several cases involving alimony and cohabitation have come before courts across the nation with differing outcomes. Things can become even more complicated when a receiving spouse moves to a state with different laws than the one where the divorce took place. There are efforts to create legislation to deal with the issue, but the nation is far from coming to any form of consensus on how to handle these cases. For now, spouses in Florida should take a very close look at the language in their divorce agreement that addresses alimony prior to signing it.
Source: The Huffington Post, "Does Alimony 'Until Remarriage' Address Nonmarital Cohabitation?", Brad Reid, May 17, 2016