After a New Jersey divorce, both parties want to move on with their lives, and many people want to start new relationships. But these relationships are often a cause of anxiety, where one party is paying and the other party is receiving alimony. We are commonly asked by clients to advise them whether a new, intimate relationship crosses the line into “cohabitation” and, if so, how that relationship may impact the alimony which they pay or receive.
The issue of cohabitation and its impact upon a prior New Jersey alimony award was recently tackled by the State Legislature in the New Jersey 2014 Alimony Reform Act. Unfortunately for those looking for clarity, the new alimony law muddies the water on what constitutes cohabitation.
The New Jersey 2014 Alimony Reform Act provides that cohabitation “involves a mutually supportive, intimate personal relationship in which a couple has undertaken duties and privileges that are commonly associated with marriage or civil union but does not necessarily maintain a single common household.” Thus, the law codifies existing decisions by New Jersey Family Courts that cohabitation does not need to involve two people living together. The New Jersey 2014 Alimony Reform Act specifically states that “a court may not find an absence of cohabitation solely on the grounds that the couple does not live together on a full-time basis.”
The new statute provides the following factors which a New Jersey Family Court must consider in determining whether a couple is cohabitating:
- Whether they have intertwined finances such as joint bank accounts.
- Whether they share joint responsibility for living expenses.
- Whether they are recognized as a couple in their social or family circle.
- Whether they live together or, if not, how frequently they have contact and how long they’ve been in the relationship.
- Whether they share household chores.
- Whether the person receiving alimony has received an enforceable “palimony” promise from his or her significant other.
- Any other relevant evidence.
The New Jersey 2014 Alimony Reform Act provides that upon a showing of “cohabitation,” alimony may be suspended or terminated. Therefore, both the alimony payor and the alimony recipient have a significant financial stake in the result of any Motion filed with the New Jersey Family Court on that issue.
If you want to get a better idea of your chances of success, you should meet with a very experienced New Jersey divorce attorney.
Salvaggio Law Group LLC devotes its entire practice to New Jersey Divorce and Family Law matters, including alimony and cohabitation issues.