New Jersey’s Amended Alimony Law – Cohabitation Litigation

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New Jersey’s Amended Alimony Law – Cohabitation Litigation

Recently New Jersey  amended the definition of Cohabitation in order to determine future alimony awards and any modifications of existing alimony. How will it affect the outcome when a relationship that involves cohabitation is brought before a judge?

According to the newly amended New Jersey definition of Cohabitation:

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 will consider the following circumstances:

(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;

(7) All other relevant evidence.

The new law applies only to ongoing or future divorces when setting an initial alimony award, it also applies to previously settled or adjudicated matters when there exists a request to modify alimony. An interesting question arises, however, regarding what law applies when an existing settlement agreement provides that the issue of cohabitation will be decided pursuant to the seminal cases (often specifically named in the agreement itself) that existed prior to the amendment. Quite frankly, this language, or some variation thereof, is very commonly found in agreements. The language in those situations was bargained for as part of an amicable resolution because that was all we as attorneys knew of at the time. Now that same language, if not placed appropriately, could potentially preclude application of the amended statute should the issue of cohabitation arise. Thus, even with the amended law taking its place, the prior law may still apply in many cases where a prior agreement exists addressing the issue. – To read the entire article: http://www.foxrothschild.com/newspubs/newspubsArticle

 

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