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The Effect Of A Supportive Relationship On Permanent Alimony After A Ft. Lauderdale Divorce

During a Broward divorce, your Fort Lauderdale divorce lawyer may request that you be awarded alimony. A Florida marital and family court can award you bridge-the-gap, temporary, lump sum, rehabilitative or permanent periodic alimony. However, after the conclusion of your Broward divorce case, one spouse may have their Broward child support, child custody and divorce attorney ask the judge to reduce or terminate the alimony because of a statutorily created supportive relationship.

In determining whether an existing award of alimony should be reduced or terminated because of an alleged supportive relationship between an obligee and a person who is not related by consanguinity or affinity and with whom the obligee resides, the court shall elicit the nature and extent of the relationship in question. The court shall give consideration, without limitation, to circumstances, including, but not limited to, the following, in determining the relationship of an obligee to another person: the extent to which the obligee and the other person have held themselves out as a married couple by engaging in conduct such as using the same last name, using a common mailing address, referring to each other in terms such as “my husband” or “my wife,” or otherwise conducting themselves in a manner that evidences a permanent supportive relationship; the period of time that the obligee has resided with the other person in a permanent place of abode; the extent to which the obligee and the other person have pooled their assets or income or otherwise exhibited financial interdependence; the extent to which the obligee or the other person has supported the other, in whole or in part; the extent to which the obligee or the other person has performed valuable services for the other; the extent to which the obligee or the other person has performed valuable services for the other’s company or employer; whether the obligee and the other person have worked together to create or enhance anything of value; whether the obligee and the other person have jointly contributed to the purchase of any real or personal property; evidence in support of a claim that the obligee and the other person have an express agreement regarding property sharing or support; evidence in support of a claim that the obligee and the other person have an implied agreement regarding property sharing or support and whether the obligee and the other person have provided support to the children of one another, regardless of any legal duty to do so.

In Baumann v Baumann, the Second District Court of Appeal reversed the decision of a Florida divorce court that reduced the former husband’s alimony obligation to the Former Wife. The former husband was required to pay the former wife $1800 per month in permanent periodic alimony. In 2007, the former husband petitioned the Florida marital and family law court to reduce or terminate his alimony obligation since the Former Wife was involved in a supportive relationship.

At the trial, the trial court found that the former husband had proven that the former wife was in a supportive relationship and was receiving $1400 per month from her supporting partner. Accordingly, the former husband’s alimony obligation was reduced to $400 per month. However, following a hearing on the former wife’s motion for rehearing the trial court acknowledged the existence of a supportive relationship but found that the Former Husband did not meet his burden in proving that the Former Wife’s need for alimony decreased as a result of the supportive relationship and required him to continue to pay the former wife $1800 per month in permanent periodic alimony.

In reversing the decision of the Florida divorce court, the Second District Court of Appeal held that the trial court improperly placed the burden of proving a reduction of the former wife’s need for alimony on the former husband. The court reasoned that the burden was on the former wife to establish that her original financial need continues to exist despite the supportive relationship after the former husband proved its existence.