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How’s this for a technicality?

image_8061641.jpgIn most divorce cases, ex-spouses who are required to pay alimony usually only must do so until his or her ex picks up with a new significant other, generally defined by when that person is cohabiting with someone else. Out in Florida, an ex-husband paying $2000 a month in alimony, discovered neat little way to define cohabiting partner:

Andrew Craissati of Palm Beach Gardens had challenged paying alimony to his former wife, Patricia, arguing that their agreement called for him to pay only until her remarriage or if she “cohabitated” with another person for more than three months.
Patricia Craissati, 48, was later sentenced to prison.
The 4th District Court of Appeal ruled Wednesday that she is indeed “cohabitating” - with her cellmate.
Two members of the three-judge panel concurred and ordered her alimony payments stopped. A third dissented, writing Craissati’s involuntary assignment to a cellmate is not cohabitation. “I would affirm the trial court’s reasoning that this is an absurd result,” wrote Judge Larry Klein.
The couple divorced in 2001. In 2005, Patricia Craissati was sentenced to nine years in prison for a DUI accident which severely injured two men. She is at Hillsborough Correctional Institution on the west coast.

It’s not like she really needs $2000 a month while in prison, right? And it’s hard to feel sorry for a woman who badly injured two men while drunk driving. Bad precedent? Perhaps. Lawyerly bullshit? Absolutely. Fair result? I’m not complaining.

| Comments (6)


See, people in Florida can be smart when they need to be.

Is cohabiting malum in se or malum prohibitum? In other words doesn't your cohabiting need to be voluntary--i.e., intentional? If you broke both legs and went into a a two person hospital room would the result be the same?

I wasn't thrilled with the denigrating way you spoke of "lawyerly bullshit". That has saved my ass on more than one occassion!

So wait...if your ex spouse is in a situation, requiring them to live with others, in the same location, despite them being forced to, I could get out of my alimony. What if I was formally married to a military member? Wouldn't a boat, or any other forward deployed facility count as a cohabitation? Sweet!!! I got to call my lawyer. Yeah!!! The War in Iraq is finally paying off!!!

This is a court of law, young man, not a court of justice. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

I don't know how alimony works in Florida, but in Maryland, alimony is generally rehabilitative--like, the spouse only gets it for a few years, just to get back on their feet. So, the view here is that sometimes it's needed to level the playing field. I would think a good argument could have been made for suspending the payment while she was in jail, because she's getting 3 hots and cot, so no alimony needed. It would be impossible to level the playing field while she was in jail. But, then, that would be her argument for once she got out.