Tag: Cohabitation

Alimony and Cohabitation

Actress, Alicia Silverstone, is on the hook for large monthly alimony payments following the finalization of her divorce from ex-husband Christopher Jarecki. What’s different is that alimony can end if he cohabitates with someone. What is Florida law on alimony and cohabitation?

Alimony cohabitation

The Wonder Years

According to media sources, the Clueless star is responsible for paying $12,000 per month in spousal support until Jan. 31, 2024, with the due date being the first of every month, according to court documents obtained by ET.

While the 42-year-old actress is required to pay the substantial spousal support sum for the next five years, the agreement provides that if Jarecki, also 42, lives with a “romantic partner” for at least five months out of a 12-month period, Silverstone’s financial obligation “shall immediately terminate.”

The couple also agreed to share joint physical custody of their 7-year old sone, with an equal and fair custody schedule to be agreed upon by both parents.

Florida Alimony & Cohabitation

I’ve written about alimony issues before. An early end to alimony because of cohabitation can be a clause anyone who pays alimony would want. As Silverstone’s divorce shows, very often it can be women paying alimony to men.

In Florida, cohabitation is referred to as a “supportive relationship.” In Florida, our statute allows a court to reduce or terminate an award of alimony if a supportive relationship exists between the recipient of alimony and the person the alimony recipient resides with.

The Crush

In determining whether a supportive relationship exists, the court considers the following:

  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • Whether the obligee and the other person have provided support to the children of one another, regardless of any legal duty to do so.

But simply proving a supportive relationship is not enough. Also, people can waive their right to seek modification of alimony in a settlement agreement. Cohabitation is not as easy to prove as you might think. Even if you can prove a supportive relationship, you must check your agreement to see if you can even modify alimony.


The Silverstone agreement also has a clause stating that if his “housing costs” are reduced by at least 50 percent as a result of sharing a residence with any unrelated adult for five months out of a 12-month span, Silverstone would also be free from her support payments.

The pair started dating in 1997 and tied the knot in 2005. They later welcomed their son in May 2011. When Silverstone filed for divorce earlier this year, the actress’ rep released a statement to ET addressing the nature of their split.

According to court documents obtained by ET at the time, Silverstone cited “irreconcilable differences” as the grounds for the termination of their 13-year marriage.

The ET article is available here.


Florida Cohabitation Agreements

There has been a very sharp increase in the number of cohabiting couples over the past 15 years or so. This rise in cohabitating – and not marrying – has led to a rise in complex and often costly legal disputes which could be avoided with a cohabitation agreement.

As the Guardian reports, despite what many believe – and around one in four people living together think they have the same legal protection as married couples  – there is no status in Florida law as a common-law spouse or partner.

The number of unmarried couples has doubled since the mid-1990s to nearly three million, while the number of children living with unmarried parents has risen from 0.9 million in 1996 to 1.8 million in 2012. In addition, there are an estimated 6,000 same-sex couples, not in a civil partnership, who have children.

Basically, the law does not recognize in any meaningful way a living-together relationship outside marriage or civil partnership.

So, if a cohabiting relationship breaks down there is very little protection for the weaker partner. As a result, some cohabiting families can find themselves facing real difficulties should they split up, particularly when children are involved.

Florida Law on Cohabitation Agreements

I have written about agreements, and especially cohabitation agreements before. Florida law recognizes that unmarried cohabitants may agree to enter into an enforceable contract that establishes rights and responsibilities towards each other: “as long as it is clear there is valid, lawful consideration separate and apart from any express or implied agreement regarding sexual relations.”

One of the reasons Florida allows for cohabitation agreements is because the right to contract is one of the most sacrosanct rights guaranteed by our fundamental law.

Should your cohabitation agreement be in writing? While it may be literally true that nothing in Florida’s statute of frauds specifically requires that a cohabitation agreement be in writing, it absolutely should be.

Florida is actually unique in the writing requirement. Among the other states that also recognize contracts between unmarried cohabitants, only three—Minnesota, New Jersey, and Texas — have held that such agreements must be in writing, and all three of those jurisdictions have enacted statutes specifically containing this requirement.

However, given that one of the primary purposes of an agreement is to reduce the risks of protracted litigation and excessive attorney’s fees, failing to have a solid, written cohabitation agreement is counterproductive.

Cohabitation v. Marriage

In Florida, as in many common law countries like England and Wales, when married couples divorce, both parties have a legal right to maintenance and their share of assets, including property and inherited property. Judges have complete discretion under family law to take all the circumstances and history of the relationship into account and decide on a fair division.

However, cohabiting couples have no such rights, regardless of the number of years they have been together and whether they have children.

So, for example, partner A moves into partner B’s property (partner B, whose name is on the deeds, is the sole owner), they live together and maybe have children. If they separate, whether after five, 10 or even 30 years, partner A has no right to personal maintenance from partner B even if she has always been supported financially.

‘No Nups’ What’s in a Cohabitation Agreement?

As the law stands, the only solution for cohabiting couples who want legal protection should they split up is either to marry or to draw up a cohabitation agreement, otherwise known as a “no nup”.

So what is a cohabitation agreement?

Generally, No Nups set out who owns what, and in what proportion, and lets you document how you will split your property, its contents, personal belongings, savings and other assets should the relationship break down.

No Nups can also cover how you will support your children, over and above any legal requirements to maintain them, as well as how you would deal with bank accounts, debts, and joint purchases such as a car.

The agreement can also be used to set out how you and your partner will manage your day-to-day finances while you live together, such as how much each contributes to rent or mortgage and bills, and whether you will take out life insurance on each other.

The Guardian article is here.


You’re Probably a Criminal: Family Law Update

By The Law Offices of Ronald H. Kauffman of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Domestic Partnerships on Thursday, February 11, 2016.

It is illegal for an unmarried man and woman to live together in Florida. So, you’re probably a criminal. But Florida is roaring into the 21st Century, and the Florida Legislature may correct the cohabitation wrinkle.

Florida’s law was originally enacted in 1868. The law made cohabitation a crime. The punishment is serious too: up to 2 years in prison, up to 1 year in the county jail, or up to a $300 fine.

Another law makes it a second degree misdemeanor for a person to engage in any unnatural and lascivious act with another person.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures only three states, Florida, Michigan, and Mississippi, make cohabitation illegal. Eight states that once made cohabitation illegal have repealed those statutes, one as recently as 2013.

Granted, the law is rarely enforced, but there have been multiple attempts to do away with the ban on cohabitation, and all have failed. Although many lawmakers want it off the books for good, some support it.

It may also be unconstitutional. In Lawrence v. Texas, the U.S. Supreme Court held that decisions about the intimacies of a physical relationship are a form of “liberty” protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

I’ve written before about legislative updates. Tallahassee is an important city to watch now that the Legislature is back in session. New Senate Bill 498 is moving forward.

The proposal to scrap Florida’s 147-year-old ban on unmarried men and women living together received unanimous approval during its first committee stop in the state Senate for the 2016 session. The bill now moves to the full Senate for a vote.

Local Republican State Rep. Charles Van Zant has been against changing the law since the beginning. But, Ryan Strickland, who lived with his wife for four years before they got married, says it’s time.

“People need to adjust as the time goes on,” Strickland said. “Lots of laws need to be adjusted to reflect the times and the feelings of people.”

Recent census data suggests that more than 430,000 couples in Florida are in violation of the law. That means that they could be fined $500 and spend up to 60 days in jail.

The bill, if passed, would repeal the provision in §798.02, F.S., which makes it a second degree misdemeanor for any unmarried man and woman, lewdly and lasciviously to associate and cohabit together.

The bill would take effect upon becoming a law.

The Miami Herald article is here.