When you are getting divorced, the court is going to have any different components when dividing up your life between you and your spouse. From Parenting to Personal Property, the lists can be significant and the stress of balancing what your priorities can take its toll. In many cases, when spouses divorce, a big question that comes up is “what about alimony?”
In Florida, there is a gradient of marriages that helps to guide parties and judges as to when alimony is appropriate. In short term marriages, those under 7 years, the likelihood of substantial alimony is low. In moderate marriages, between 7 and 17 years, there is a better possibility that you will receive alimony, but more likely for the length of time that your marriage lasted. For individuals married for more than 17 years, there is a rebuttable presumption that the higher paid spouse will owe alimony to the lesser paid spouse for a long time period, and in some instances, permanently.
But what happens when the situation changes from when you get divorced? Many alimony paying spouses find themselves in new territory when they find out that their former spouse has now gotten married or is living with someone new. If there has been a substantial change in circumstances, then you may be entitled to a modification of your alimony. Marriage to someone new is a termination of alimony, but it does not happen automatically. Having an experienced Florida family attorney file a motion to stop your alimony, and being able to prove that your ex is remarried is a prerequisite to alimony termination. Next, if your ex is living with a new romantic partner, and they are sharing in living expenses, or there is a financial dependency between them, co-habitation or “living together” is another basis for when your alimony may be decreased or terminated. These cases are very evidence based, and that is the tricky part. Being able to prove that your ex is now living with someone else may be the hardest part.
When you are represented by an experienced Florida family law attorney, they will in many cases recommend that you hire a private investigator to obtain the valuable proof that you need. Also, you will need to show various forms of evidence that indicates that your ex is not just “sleeping over” occasionally or that their new roommate is actually romantically linked to your spouse. Section 61.14, Florida Statutes is the controlling law on this issue, and it is very specific as to what proof needs to be shown to indicate that the relationship that your ex is involved in, may lead to reducing your alimony. In most cases, when your ex is living with someone else, and jeopardizing their alimony, they are not going to be willing to admit and lose the alimony that they are receiving from you.
In some cases, your shared children may spill the beans about your ex’s new boyfriend or girlfriend, but while this is good to help to start the process, it is important to remember that you should not press or question your children about it. Furthermore, your children’s testimony, unless they are adults, will most likely not be heard by the court. So, while your children may be helpful to letting you in on the scoop, they are not going to be reliable witnesses for the court, and it’s a sticky situation for them.
But even still, just because your ex is living with someone else, it does not mean that the proof will show enough of a change to the circumstances to warrant your alimony changing. This is why in these technical cases it is important to find a legal expert in the field that to help to guide you through the complicated legal arguments that will be required of you when you intend to prove that you are entitled to an alimony reduction based on your particular facts. Getting advice from an experienced Florida family law attorney is key to ensuring that you are successful in your alimony reduction claim and also how to best obtain proof that is usable in court.