Cohabitation and Inheritance Justify the Termination of Alimony
Several years ago, the Florida legislature established procedures by which someone paying permanent alimony could seek to reduce or terminate those payments based upon the former spouse living with someone. Florida statute 61.14(2) provides the process by which this is to occur. However, it is very rarely successful. Although it is not impossible, it is very difficult to prove that an alimony receiving ex-spouse is living with somebody and in a supportive relationship.
The recent Florida 5th District Court of Appeal (DCA) opinion of Gregory vs. Gregory is a good example of the successful use of this statute. In this case, Mr. Gregory had been paying alimony for 29 years. At the point in time that he retired, his ex-wife was living with a cohabitant in what he claimed was a supportive relationship. In addition, the ex-wife had inherited $30,000 from her daughter’s estate and $370,000 from her mother’s estate. She gifted away a lot of these inheritances and tried to establish that she still had a need for the support. Once Mr. Gregory established the existence of a supportive relationship, the burden of proof for the continued need for alimony shifted to the former wife. At the conclusion of the trial, the trial judge found the existence of a supportive relationship, but only reduced the permanent alimony from $650 to $450 per month. Mr. Gregory appealed and argued that his ex-wife had not sufficiently established a continued need given all of the money she had inherited and the gifts she had made. This appeared to be a very successful argument and the Florida 5th DCA not only reversed the reduction but also specifically gave instructions to the trial judge to enter an order terminating alimony. This is a good example of how this statute can be used to reduce or terminate alimony obligations.
Persons paying permanent alimony to ex-spouses who are cohabitating with another person should consult with an experienced family law attorney to find out if they can receive a reduction or termination of alimony.