Will Cohabitating After Divorce Affect Support Payments?

Thu, Dec 17, 2015

General Legal Issues

15577873756_e0406e9900_bWhile you may have sworn off a new relationship during and after your divorce, let’s say you finally reconsidered. You heal, grow, and meet someone new, and you want to test the waters by living with them. Perhaps you plan to live with them forever, or perhaps you just want to live with them first before you get married again. Either way, you are wise to determine what this new relationship will do to alimony or child support payments you are receiving.

Your marital settlement agreement might have specific language for alimony payments. Maybe it is for a short amount of time, or until such and such happens, etc. Maybe as soon as you remarry, it goes away or perhaps it was just meant to “bridge the gap.” Alternatively, maybe somehow you got a terrific alimony agreement that surpasses some of these limits. Just make sure if you did, that your attorney explains all the ways it could be challenged in the future.

However, if you don’t have any specific agreements, make sure you are aware of Florida Statute 61.14. This Florida State Statute sets forth the rules for how support can be changed. It also explains specific reasons that cohabitation could support a reason for alimony to be ended. Some of these include, but are not limited to:

  • Proof that the new cohabitating relationship is a supportive one
  • Calling the new person husband or wife
  • Pooling income or assets while cohabitating
  • Whether the cohabitating couple might provide support for each other’s children

Child support and alimony are handled differently, however. Don’t worry that your child support can be reduced by living with someone else automatically. There are rules in place to make sure this is only done if truly reasonable. However, it is something worth discussing with an attorney. There may be ways to assure that your assets and your new live-in partner’s assets are kept separate enough to invalidate the issue. However, don’t be surprised if your former spouse at some point tries to bring up that the new boyfriend /girlfriend is helping you out and increasing your income or reducing your expenses…thus you should get less child support. Nevertheless, just like alimony, the paying former spouse has to prove these changes in circumstances.

Overall, thinking about your support payments is important when starting a new relationship, but this should not be the main determining factor in how the relationship proceeds. The law has thought of this in advance and is prepared to address it. Just make sure you aren’t caught unaware.

Attorney Christopher D. Smith, Sr. is designated a Board Certified Consumer Bankruptcy Lawyer by the American Board of Certification.  SmithLaw is located in Lakewood Ranch, Florida.  Attorney Smith concentrates on bankruptcy, civil litigation, probate, estate planning, and elder exploitation cases in the Sarasota and Bradenton area.  Call 941-202-2222 to learn more.  SmithLaw offers free consultations in certain areas, including consumer bankruptcy, probate, and personal injury matters.

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