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Under Florida Law, the court may award alimony to either party in a divorce proceeding. There are several types of alimony, which include bridge-the-gap, rehabilitative, durational, and permanent. The court may order alimony in periodic payments or lump sum payments or both. The court may award any combination of these forms to a party as part of the Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage.
An award of alimony is determined by one parties' actual need for alimony and the other party's ability to pay alimony. Once the court has determined that a party has a need and the other party has the ability to pay, the court determines the appropriate type and amount of alimony. To make this determination, the court considers any relevant factors. For example, in determining whether to award alimony, amount of alimony, or whether to terminate an existing award of alimony, the court may consider the adultery of either spouse. The court may determine that a party is not entitled to alimony if that party has committed adultery or is in a supportive relationship. The court may also determine to award alimony, but reduce the amount based on that relationship.
The court also considers adultery in the modification or termination of alimony. In determining whether an existing award of alimony should be reduced or terminated because of a supportive relationship between the receiving party and a person who is not related by blood or marriage and with whom the receiving party resides, the court first determines the nature and extent of the relationship. In doing so, the court may consider several factors, including but not limited to the following: (a) the extent to which the receiving party and the other person have held themselves out as a married couple or as being in a permanent supportive relationship; (b) the period of time that they have resided with each other; (c) the extent to which they have demonstrated financial interdependence; (d) the extent to which the receiving party or the other person has supported the other, in whole or in part; (e) the extent to which the receiving party or the other person has performed valuable services for the other or the other's company or employer; (g) whether the receiving party and the other person have worked together to create or enhance anything of value; (h) whether the receiving party and the other person have jointly contributed to the purchase of any property; (i) evidence in support of a claim that the receiving party and the other person have an express agreement regarding property sharing or support; (j) evidence in support of a claim that the receiving party and the other person have an implied agreement regarding property sharing or support; and (k) whether the receiving party and the other person have provided support to the children of one another, regardless of any legal duty to do so. See King v. King, 2D10-1839 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2012)
If the court decides that a supportive relationship does exist, then it must decide whether to reduce or terminate the alimony obligation. The court must consider the economic factors for determining an award of alimony (for example, need and ability to pay). Next, after considering the economic factors, the court must determine "whether to reduce or terminate the Former [spouse]'s alimony and, if to reduce it, by how much." King, 2D10-1839 (Fla. 2nd DCA 2012) (citing Buxton v. Buxton, 963 So. 2d 950, 951-53 (Fla. 2d DCA 2007).
In King, the wife had been living with a paramour for almost two years, but was awarded permanent alimony by the court. Several years after, the former husband filed a petition seeking to reduce or terminate alimony. The trial court reduced her alimony pursuant to the Florida Statutes which permits the court to reduce or terminate an award of alimony based on the cohabitation of the receiving party. The former wife appealed the decision. The appellate court found that the supportive relationship existed before the final judgment was entered and reversed the decision finding that the statute did not apply because the former wife did not form "since" the original award of alimony. The court reasoned that the word "since" may be defined as "[d]uring the period subsequent to the time when"; therefore, the plain language of the statute does not authorize the court to reduce or terminate alimony to the receiving party based on a supportive relationship unless the relationship began after the divorce and the award of alimony.