In Florida, there are two types of support decisions that may happen in a divorce – alimony and child support. For the paying spouse, alimony is often a dirty word. Alimony may be awarded when one person has a need for the support and the other party has the ability to pay.
Florida law allows for different types of alimony depending on the need. These may include:
- Periodic permanent
- Lump sum
- Bridge the gap
- Durational alimony
Unlike child support, which is determined at least in part based on guidelines provided for in the law, alimony is left up to either an agreement between the parties or the discretion of a judge.
Certain types of alimony, once awarded, cannot be modified or terminated. These include lump sum and bridge the gap alimony. The other three types of alimony may be modifiable (upward or downward), or even terminated under certain circumstances. One of the reasons for modification or termination of alimony is that the recipient spouse enters into a supportive relationship.
Florida Statute 61.14(1)(b)(1) says that “The court may reduce or terminate an award of alimony upon specific written findings by the court that since the granting of a divorce and the award of alimony a supportive relationship has existed between the obligee and a person with whom the obligee resides.” http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=0000-0099/0061/Sections/0061.14.html
Essentially, this means that if a former spouse is receiving alimony and enters into a supportive relationship (for example, is cohabitating with someone and sharing expenses), the alimony payments they received can be terminated. This is not to say that a former spouse receiving alimony is not allowed to date or enter into another relationship after the divorce. However, it might mean that if the person getting alimony who enters into a relationship (marriage or otherwise) no longer has the same need, alimony might be reduced or eliminated.
How does alimony get reduced? The same way it was decided in the first place – by agreement or by returning to court.