Cohabitation Under The Amended Alimony Statute

In New Jersey, cohabiting with the amended alimony statute has been a topic of intense discussion recently. Following divorce proceedings,  there are several different types of alimony to be discussed and unfortunately, this often results in significant confusion when resolving your alimony settlement.

Despite the amended alimony statute, different judges might implement the statute differently.  In turn, some trial judges may support applying the pre-amendment legal analysis, some may strictly apply the new statutory language, and some may even instrument a combination of the two. This complexity highlights the importance of seeking an experienced attorney.

Cohabitation Under The Past Alimony Statute 

The Supreme Court of New Jersey described cohabitation as:

  • An “intimate,” “close and enduring” relationship that requires “more than a common residence” or mere sexual liaison. The relationship “bears the generic character of a family unit as a relatively permanent household,” is “serious and lasting,” and echoes the “stability, permanency and mutual interdependence” of a solitary household.
  • It encompasses a manner whereby “the couple has undertaken duties and privileges that are commonly associated with marriage.”

Factors may consist of, but are not limited to, long-term intimate or romantic involvement; living together, combined finances such as joint bank accounts shared living costs and household duties, and recognition of the relationship in the couple’s social and family circle. The “economic benefits” test would surface after the client made a preliminary showing of cohabitation, at which time the court would regulate if the third party subsidized to the dependent spouse’s support, or if the third party resided in the dependent spouse’s home without contributing anything to household costs.

How does cohabitation affect alimony under the new statute?

The amendment to the law outlines cohabitation as consisting of 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.” A trial judge given a cohabitation contention must contemplate:

  • Joined finances and liabilities
  • Sharing or joint responsibility for living overheads
  • Recognition of the relationship in the couple’s social and family circle
  • Living together, the regularity of contact, the extent of the relationship, and other aspects of an equally supportive intimate personal relationship
  • Division of household tasks
  • Whether the beneficiary of alimony has established an enforceable aptitude of support from another person within the meaning of subsection h. of R.S. 25:1-5
  • All other relevant indication

It is important to note that the amended law cohabitation does not necessitate the couple to live together on a full-time basis.

Contact a Bergen and Morris County, NJ Alimony Lawyer

At Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark, our attorneys have extensive experience helping clients to understand and protect their legal rights before, during, and after the divorce process in towns across New Jersey and Bergen County, including Hackensack, Ridgewood, Paramus, Teaneck, and Fort Lee. To speak with our team of divorce lawyers today in a free and confidential consultation regarding your concerns about your divorce, please contact us online, or through our Hackensack, NJ office at (201) 397-1750.

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