Court Explains Supportive Relationships as Defined by Florida Law

Florida law permits parties to seek alimony in divorce actions. The courts will only grant alimony if they deem it necessary under the circumstances. In other words, the courts must typically find that the divorce will cause a party to suffer financial hardship in order to grant them alimony. Thus, if circumstances change, it may warrant a reduction or elimination of an alimony award, like when a party receives financial support from someone with whom they are romantically involved. Recently, a Florida court discussed what constitutes a supportive relationship in a matter in which it reversed a trial court ruling denying a husband’s request to modify alimony. If you need assistance protecting your interests in a divorce action, it is smart to meet with a Miami divorce attorney as soon as possible.

The History of the Case

It is reported that the husband and wife married in 1975; 20 years later, they divorced. Pursuant to the final judgment of dissolution, the husband was required to make permanent alimony payments to the wife on a weekly basis. The husband petitioned the court for an alimony modification in 2020, arguing that the wife was in a supportive relationship and no longer required alimony.

Allegedly, the trial court held a bench trial on the petition. During the trial, evidence was produced showing that the wife had been living with her boyfriend for fourteen years and had jointly purchased a home with him. Although they did not share bank accounts, they did share expenses. The trial court still found that the wife was not in a supportive relationship and needed alimony, however, and that the husband could pay and, therefore, denied the husband’s petition. The husband appealed.

Supportive Relationships as Defined by Florida Law

On appeal, the court reversed the trial court ruling disagreeing with the finding that the former wife was not in a supportive relationship. Specifically, the court determined that the trial court incorrectly determined that the wife was not in a supportive relationship as defined by Florida law. Further, the court found that once a supportive relationship was established, the burden of proof shifted to the former wife to prove her continued need for alimony once a supportive relationship. In sum, the court found that the former husband had proven the former wife’s supportive relationship but that the former wife had not adequately proven her continued need for alimony. As such, it ordered the trial court to reassess the former wife’s need and to reconsider the alimony modification.

Talk to an Experienced Miami Attorney

While the courts may find the circumstances warrant alimony in some divorce actions, most alimony awards can be modified if the parties’ financial circumstances change. If you have questions about your rights with regard to modifying alimony, you should talk to an attorney. The experienced   Miami lawyers of the Law Offices of Sandy T. Fox, P.A. can advise you of your options and help you to seek the best legal result available under the facts of your case. We have an office in Aventura, and we often aid parties in divorce actions in Miami. You can contact us via our online form or at 800-596-0579 to schedule a meeting.