Changing alimony upon cohabitation


The martial settlement agrees provides that alimony ends if the wife remarries. Instead she is living with the man in a house that they bought together. Attorney Michelle Barry discusses options.


Attorney Tom Olsen: Welcome everybody. My name is Tom Olsen. The name of the show is Olsen on Law, every Saturday at 11:00 AM right here on News 96.5. I'd like to introduce you to Attorney Michelle Barry. She specializes in family law, including divorce, alimony, child support and time-sharing. Hey, Michelle, welcome to the show.

Attorney Michelle Barry: Thank you for having me, Tom.

Attorney Tom Olsen: Hey, Michelle, last week I had a very fascinating call from a gentleman. He said that he got divorced. He was ordered to pay alimony, and in the order it says that alimony would end if she got married, the ex-wife, if she got remarried. Now, she's not gotten remarried but she's living with a man. In fact, she and that man bought a home together. Not remarried, but would that be a basis for him to end alimony payments?

Attorney Michelle Barry: Well, that would be one of many factors. As with any part of a final judgment of dissolution, the way to modify it would be to file a petition indicating that there has been a substantial material change of circumstances that was not expected at the entry of the final judgment itself. There's a certain standard that has to be met there. Of course, that would be a change because she's moved in with someone and it is not just a roommate situation, she actually owns property with this person. That then begs the question to reevaluate all the other factors that normally would go into the award of alimony to anyone. Is there still a need? Then does the paying spouse have the ability to pay?

It goes to that only after it has been conclusively established that there has been a substantial material change in circumstances. Buying a home with a boyfriend would qualify as one of those many factors. It also depends to how of an extent they are holding themselves out as if they were a married couple, if they have minor children together, or if they're busy carting each other's children back and forth to school and special events. There are a lot of things that have to be considered, otherwise it'd be very easy for her to go, “Oh no, I'm in a roommate situation here, and my roommate just happens to be a male.” The fact that she actually bought a house with the boyfriend would be very telling.

Attorney Tom Olsen: When alimony orders are done these days, is it typical to say that it would end if she got remarried? Is that typical or not typical?

Attorney Michelle Barry: Now the way they are drafted and in any settlement agreement that I put together, it simply states that alimony is payable until death or remarriage, if it's considered permanent periodic alimony of course, otherwise there's other forms of it, or upon entry of the recipient spouse into a supportive relationship as defined by the Florida Statutes.

Attorney Tom Olsen: All right. Michelle, tell the listeners how they can reach you.

Attorney Michelle Barry: They can reach me best by email at They could check out my website there, Also, my phone number at the office is 407-622-4529.

Attorney Tom Olsen: Michelle, thank you for calling in today. We certainly appreciate it.

Attorney Michelle Barry: Thank you for having me.

Attorney Tom Olsen: That's Attorney Michelle Barry. She's a divorce attorney right here in Central Florida, and you are welcome to call her next week. You can always give her a call at her office at 407-622-4529. Her website,