Do I have to prove that my ex-spouse is living with another person in order to prove cohabitation?
Under New Jersey’s new alimony reform, a payor spouse need not prove that the recipient spouse is residing with another individual for purposes of proving cohabitation. In clarifying the definition of cohabitation, the Act requires the Court to consider eight factors in ultimately determining whether or not cohabitation is occurring. Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2A: 34-23(n),
n. Alimony may be suspended or terminated if the payee cohabits with another person. 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.
When assessing whether cohabitation is occurring, the court shall consider the following:
(1) Intertwined finances such as joint bank accounts and other joint holdings or liabilities;
(2) Sharing or joint responsibility for living expenses;
(3) Recognition of the relationship in the couple’s social and family circle;
(4) Living together, the frequency of contact, the duration of the relationship, and other indicia of a mutually supportive intimate personal relationship;
(5) Sharing household chores;
(6) Whether the recipient of alimony has received an enforceable promise of support from another person within the meaning of subsection h. of R.S.25:1-5; and
(7) All other relevant evidence.
In evaluating whether cohabitation is occurring and whether alimony should be suspended or terminated, the court shall also consider the length of the relationship. A court may not find an absence of cohabitation solely on grounds that the couple does not live together on a full-time basis.
N.J. Stat. § 2A:34-23 (LexisNexis, Lexis Advance through New Jersey 217th Second Annual Session, L. 2017, c. 38, and J.R. 1)
Social media is a good starting block to obtain evidence of cohabitation. If the Court decides there is “a serious committed relationship tantamount to marriage” the Court will order a hearing to decide whether there is actually cohabitation and alimony should be terminated. Wachtell v. Wachtell, No. A-3593-13T42015, NJSuper. Unpub. Lexis 745, (App. Div. 2015). For more in depth and sophisticated search, a party may want to reach out to a private investigator.
As you can see, termination of alimony based upon cohabitation is a new and developing area of the law. For more information regarding post-judgment termination of alimony contact the Law Office of Lyons & Associates. At the law office of Lyons & Associates, we represent men and women throughout New Jersey who have unresolved family law matters. We place a premium on personalized service and attention. For a private consultation, contact us online, view our website at www.lyonspc.com, or call our office at 908-575-9777.
Written by: Marissa DelMauro, Esq.