Linden Alimony Attorneys Review Cohabitation Laws in Union County NJ
Providing assistance to our clients Clark, Roselle, Garwood, Elizabeth, and throughout Union and Essex Counties, and northern Middlesex County.
In the State of New Jersey, as with most other states, divorce law is constantly evolving with the goal of becoming more fair and reflective of the needs of each spouse post-divorce. This is especially true with respect to alimony. Under the amendment to the alimony law passed in 2014, New Jersey Statute 2A:34-23, an alimony obligation may be terminated upon the supported spouse’s cohabitation with another individual. However, this amendment has an “anti-retroactivity” provision, meaning it only applies to divorces filed after the 2014 effective date.
In the State of New Jersey “cohabitation” is defined as an arrangement that “involves a mutually supportive, intimate personal relationship in which a couple has undertaken duties and privileges that are usually associated with marriage or civil union”. Before 2014 one of the primary factors to determining cohabitation was a shared residence. Needless to say, there were many who were able to continue receiving alimony payments while in a serious marriage-like relationship with another individual simply by maintaining a separate residence. However, NJ Rev Stat § 2A:34-23 states that individuals do not necessarily maintain a single common household for cohabitation to occur.
According to NJ Rev Stat § 2A:34-23, the courts will consider 8 criteria to determine whether or not cohabitation is occurring:
- Intertwined finances as in joint bank accounts or other joint holdings or liabilities
- Shared living expenses
- Shared residence which can be determined by the frequency of contact as well as other indicators
- Recognized relationship within the couple’s social and family circle
- Length of the relationship
- The promise of financial support from the new romantic partner
- Shared household chores and responsibilities
- Any other evidence the court deems relevant
As previously stated, it is important to note that the couple does not have to live together on a full-time basis to be considered “cohabitating” if the divorce was filed after the 2014 start date of the amended law.
How can an attorney help me prove cohabitation in order to modify or terminate alimony?
It is very common for the alimony recipient to deny that they are cohabitating with someone else because he/she doesn’t want the spousal support payments to end. It is critical to know that it is the alimony payer’s responsibility to prove the ex-spouse is cohabitating with someone new which can be difficult. The help of a skilled and experienced divorce attorney is a must.
First, the paying spouse has to file an alimony modification petition with the court and submit “prima facie” evidence that demonstrates the appearance of cohabitation. If the court finds this evidence to be sufficient, it may grant a discovery period in order to gather more conclusive evidence, including financial records.
Minor Change in the Law Reduces Burden of Proof on Alimony Paying Spouse
According to the New Jersey Alimony Reform Act of 2014, the recipient no longer must share a residence full-time for the relationship to be considered cohabitation. This seemingly minor change greatly alleviates the burden of proof on the paying spouse. An experienced divorce lawyer will have relationships with professionals, who can help you gather evidence, including:
- Private investigators capable of monitoring social media sites in order to establish patterns of cohabitation activity. Furthermore, a private investigator can monitor an individual’s movement patterns.
- Forensic accountants who can interpret financial statements during discovery as well as look for changes in financial habits and establish patterns of shared financial responsibility. This financial analysis may be critical to proving your case given the new law and criteria.
Armed with the information a skilled and resourceful attorney can provide you can seek a modification or termination of your existing alimony obligation.
Talk to a Union County NJ Alimony and Divorce Attorney Today
Divorce can be a difficult topic to address, especially when spousal support is at issue. Whether you are the spouse requesting spousal support or the paying party, we highly recommend consulting with a divorce.
A family lawyer at the Law Office of Edward S. Cooper will help to make sure you understand what the law provides in your specific circumstances and will help you navigate your situation, informing you at all times about the process under your name.