A man has been relieved of his obligation to pay spousal support to his former wife, a scenario that some in Florida may fantasize about. The reasoning behind the decision is somewhat unusual. The couple divorced in 2008, and the man agreed to pay the woman alimony for a period of eight years. In 2014, he filed suit asking that those payments be stopped.
The reason he wanted to cease those payments is based on a provision set out within the divorce agreement. The agreement clearly stated that in the event that the former wife should enter into marriage or a marriage-like pattern of cohabitation, then the spousal support would end. The former husband took the matter to court because he found that his ex was living with another woman in a romantic relationship.
Two lower courts ruled that the agreement did not apply to the living arrangement between the two women. A law defining cohabitation in the state specifies that the parties must live together as husband or wife. That led the original court and an appellate court to rule in favor of the ex-wife.
Under appeal, however, the higher court found that a change in the language of the law in 1997 used gender-neutral language. The ruling went on to state that the lower courts had erred in interpreting the law to mean that only heterosexual unions could be considered as cohabitation. That led to a reversal of the alimony order, which relieved the former husband of any obligation to provide continued financial support. For Florida residents who are facing similar circumstances, it may be worth a call to a family law attorney to discuss whether alimony should end.
Source: The Washington Times, "Va. man gets out of paying spousal support after ex-wife enters into a lesbian relationship", Bradford Richardson, May 2, 2016