Subsequent to divorce, people often move on to new relationships. However, living with a new partner can cause complications to an existing alimony proceedings. Cohabitation and its effects on alimony is habitually one of the most difficult family law issues to sort through. The different types of alimony can make it confusing in some cases but generally speaking, the payer of alimony would want the agreement to read that alimony shall terminate upon cohabitation, while the recipient, might agree to allow the payer to seek post-divorce modification proceeding.in order to make any changes to the alimony judgment.
Attorney Edward S. Cooper has led a large array of clients through alimony and post-divorce proceedings in his nearly 25 years of practice as a New Jersey family law attorney. His experience with such issues allows him to offer the quality representation to his clients as they seek to ensure that they can move on to the next part of their lives. To discuss your exclusive requirements and situation with Mr. Cooper, contact him at 908-481-4625. Initial consultations are always provided free of charge.
New Jersey Supreme Court Ruling on Cohabitation and Alimony
Following 1999, regarding the Konzelman case, the supreme court decided that agreements to terminate alimony based upon cohabitation are enforceable if cohabitation is proven and the “the cohabitation provision of the marital settlement agreement [sic] was voluntary, knowing and consensual.”
In the case of a clear cohabitation clause requiring termination, where the cohabitation ends, the Supreme Court ruled in the Quinn case that if you have a termination clause and you cohabitate, alimony is over, even if the cohabitation ends. It is important to note, as was the case in this ruling, the Supreme court can reverse the deciding due to false claims of cohabitation.
In noting that Courts have greater discretion in interpreting marital agreements, the Supreme Court reiterated that “An agreement that resolves a matrimonial dispute is no less a contract than an agreement to resolve a business dispute.”
How Cohabitation Can Terminate Alimony in Union County NJ
Characteristically, the relationship of the recipient is only going to change the obligation of the payer if a situation called “cohabitation” occurs. Generally, cohabitation is defined as “a mutually supportive, intimate personal relationship in which a couple has undertaken duties and privileges that are commonly associated with marriage”.
It is a frequent misconception that the scrutiny of cohabitation begins and ends with the question, “Is the receiving ex-spouse living with his/her partner?” It is vital to note that the recipient and his/her partner may be considered cohabitation even if they are not living together. In New Jersey, the alimony statute elicits several factors the court must contemplate in determining whether the ex-spouse receiving alimony is cohabitation.
N.J.S.A. § 2A:34-23 states the following aspects must be measured in defining cohabitation, with respect to the receiving ex-spouse and his/her partner:
- Linked finances like joint bank accounts and other joint holdings or liabilities
- Sharing or joint responsibility for living costs
- Acknowledgment of the relationship in the couple’s social and family circle
- Living together, the regularity of contact, the extent of the relationship, and other indicators of a reciprocally supportive intimate personal relationship
- Sharing household tasks
- Whether the recipient of alimony has received an enforceable promise of sustenance from another person
- All other applicable indications that conclude to cohabitation situations
Following the detailed evaluation of these issues, the court is able to make a determination regarding cohabitation. If the court concludes that cohabitation is the presence of another partner in the receiving ex-spouse’s relationship, there may be a warrant for the modification in the existing alimony agreement.
If you are divorced and believe you are paying alimony to an ex-spouse who is cohabiting, or if you are receiving alimony and want to know if your new relationship would be considered a cohabiting relationship, it is highly recommended that you consult with an attorney.
Contact a Union County NJ Alimony Attorney
When determining if a relationship is in the state of cohabitation or subject to alimony, it is essential to have an experienced lawyer on your side that can offer you the advice you need to ensure that you are receiving or making finances that are coherent to the law. Contact Edward S. Cooper to discuss your individual case free of charge with the knowledgeable alimony attorney at his Union County offices at 908-481-4625.