Cohabitation

Cohabitation

Cohabitation Attorneys in Bergen County, NJ

Compassionate Family & Divorce Attorneys in New Jersey

Cohabitation occurs in a variety of contexts in New Jersey family law matters. At times, cohabitation intersects with divorce issues, particularly those related to alimony. While in other instances, cohabitation serves as a relatively new alternative to marriage for couples, many of whom elect to enter into cohabitation agreements that protect their respective interests. In the first case, cohabitation has become a more significant issue following the implementation of New Jersey’s Alimony Reform Bill of 2014. Under this new policy, the definition of cohabitation has become broader and former spouses choosing to cohabitate with other people following their divorce may provide grounds for the reduction or termination of alimony payments. In the second case, individuals and their partners may choose to develop cohabitation agreements that behave similarly to prenuptial agreements for married couples, serving as a protective mechanism, as well as a legally-binding document that outlines the financial rights and responsibilities of each partner. Whether you are divorced and requesting a reduction of alimony or spousal support, or you are considering entering into a cohabitation agreement with your significant other, a knowledgeable family lawyer can serve as an invaluable asset, ensuring that your interests are thoroughly protected.

At Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark, our seasoned attorneys serve clients and their families throughout Bergen County, New Jersey, focusing only on divorce and family law matters. By concentrating on this area of practice, we have accumulated a wellspring of knowledge and resources, which we leverage regularly to best serve our clients’ needs. The three partners who lead our firm have earned significant distinction within the legal community; in fact, all three are among the only 2 percent of lawyers recognized by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Certified Matrimonial Law Attorneys. Their exceptional credentials and extensive knowledge of the field is further evidenced by the many publications, committees, and appointments they have attained throughout their careers. For example, Partner Dominic A. Tomaio authored Chapter 14 of Skoloff & Cutler, New Jersey Family Law Practice, N.J.I.C.L.E, 13th Ed., 2006., entitled “Issues Surrounding Unmarried Cohabitants and Domestic Partners.” With this level of expertise, we can provide an unparalleled standard of legal representation. And yet, we are equally proud of the compassion, support, and consistent guidance that facilitates our long-standing client relationships. To discuss your unique needs and priorities with one of our talented family lawyers today, contact our firm today.

How Cohabitation Can Affect Alimony in New Jersey

As mentioned previously, New Jersey’s Alimony Reform Act brought cohabitation to the forefront of divorce discussions by expanding the definition of cohabitation and considering its potential grounds for alimony modification or termination. Under New Jersey since alimony reform, cohabitation can apply to couples who do not share a primary residence. 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 or civil union but does not necessarily maintain a single common household.”

The court will evaluate a variety of factors to determine if a couple can be considered “cohabitants” under the law. The contributing factors to this determination are as follows:

  • Intermingled finances such as joint bank accounts and other joint holdings or liabilities;
  • Shared or joint responsibility for living expenses;
  • Recognition of the relationship in the couple’s family and social circle;
  • Living together, the frequency of contact, the duration of the relationship, and other indicia of a mutually supportive intimate personal relationship;
  • Shared household chores;
  • Whether the alimony recipient has received an enforceable promise of support from another individual within the meaning of subsection h. of R.S.25:1-5;
  • The relationship’s length; and
  • Any additional relevant evidence

It is important to note that even if the standard for cohabitation is met, you must establish a significant change in economic circumstances to justify an alimony modification or the termination of alimony payments altogether. Essentially, your former spouse must experience a substantial economic benefit from the cohabitation if you are to decrease or terminate alimony payments to him or her.

Cohabitation Agreements for Unmarried Couples in New Jersey

Research shows that the number of adults in America who have never been married has reached a historic high. Specifically, one in five adults ages 25 and older have never been married as of the most current U.S. Census. Although we are marrying at lesser rates than ever before, we are not necessarily avoiding relationships altogether, but instead, opting to participate in new relationship configurations, cohabitation chief among them.

Cohabitation arrangements often bring about the same issues and concerns that marriages do, including shared financial responsibilities, income sharing, asset, and debt sharing, and the costs and concerns of childbearing. To effectively address these issues fairly and comprehensively, many couples are choosing to develop cohabitation agreements that explicitly outline expectations. Cohabitation agreements are similar to prenuptial agreements in that they are proactive, protective, and legally binding. Just as prenuptial agreements do, they can ensure that both parties are protected should the parties choose to go their separate ways. Cohabitation agreements can address a myriad of issues, including:

  • Division of Assets and Debts
  • Financial Support; and
  • Child Custody

It is important to note that cohabitation agreements are considered contracts and as such, are best crafted by knowledgeable legal professionals who can ensure compliance with all legal requirements for these binding agreements.

Contact our Cohabitation Lawyers for Immediate Assistance

Decisions regarding cohabitation are extremely significant, with both personal and financial implications. Whether you are choosing to share your life with someone new or dealing with issues resulting from a previous relationship, the best decisions are driven by complete information. At Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark, our divorce and family lawyers partner with you during these life-altering transitions, providing you with an understanding of all of your options so that you can make decisions that are right for you. To learn more, contact our firm to schedule a consultation.

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