When an alimony obligation exists after a divorce between ex-spouses in New Jersey, both the paying and receiving ex-spouses may wonder how a dating relationship of the receiving ex-spouse can impact the paying ex-spouse's obligation to pay alimony.
How cohabitation can terminate alimony
Typically, the dating relationship of the receiving ex-spouse is only going to alter the obligation of the paying ex-spouse if a situation called "cohabitation" exists. Broadly, 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 common misconception that a cohabitation analysis begins and ends with the question, "Is the receiving ex-spouse living with his/her partner?" It is important to note that the receiving ex-spouse and his/her partner may be considered Cohabitation even if they are not living together. In New Jersey, the alimony statute lays out several factors the Court must consider in determining whether the ex-spouse receiving alimony is Cohabitation.
N.J.S.A. § 2A:34-23 states the following factors must be considered in determining cohabitation, with respect to the receiving ex-spouse and his/her partner:
- Intertwined finances such as joint bank accounts and other joint holdings or liabilities;
- Sharing or joint responsibility for living expenses;
- Recognition of the relationship in the couple's social and family circle;
- Living together, the frequency of contact, the duration of the relationship, and other signs of a mutually supportive intimate personal relationship;
- Sharing household chores;
- Whether the recipient of alimony has received an enforceable promise of support from another person; and
- All other relevant evidence that leads to cohabitation circumstances.
It is only after considering all of these factors that the Court can make a determination regarding cohabitation. If the Court determines that Cohabitation exists 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 Cohabitation, or if you are receiving alimony and want to know if your new relationship would be considered a Cohabitation relationship, it is highly recommended that you consult with an attorney. If you have an issue involving Cohabitation, please contact one of our experienced family law attorneys today to set up a consultation.
The foregoing is intended to be a general discussion of the law and is not intended to be contrused as legal advice. If you have a specific questions, please contact our office to speak with an attorney.