Divorce seldom means the end of a person’s love life. Many people decide to resume their pursuit of romance and love after getting a divorce, with some people subsequently remarrying. However, the decision to remarry can have a major impact on a divorcee’s rights when it comes to receiving spousal support from their former spouse.
Generally, remarriage is grounds for terminating an alimony obligation. This is because a new marriage creates new spousal duties that supersede those from a previous marriage. In an existing marriage, spouses owe each other a duty to provide adequate financial support.
So what about serious romantic relationships where the couple isn’t married—how does that affect a person’s alimony rights?
Cohabitation and Alimony
In many serious romantic relationships, the couple decides to live together. For all intents and purposes, a relationship can mirror all the essential features of a marriage shy of getting a marriage license and throwing a wedding. Would that suggest that living together with a serious romantic partner should terminate their alimony payments?
In 2014, the New Jersey Legislature passed an amendment to Section 2A:34-23 of New Jersey’s Statutes regarding the effect that cohabitation has on alimony obligations. Under New Jersey Statutes § 2A:34-23(n), “[a]limony may be suspended or terminated if the payee cohabits with another person.”
Section 24:34-23(n) defines “cohabitation” 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.”
As a result, a person who receives alimony payments from a former spouse risks receiving future alimony if they cohabitate with someone with whom they are dating. The application of this rule depends on what constitutes “cohabitation.”
New Jersey Statues § 24:34-23(n) lists the following factors for courts to consider when determining whether a case involves cohabitation:
- “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 indicia 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.”
Significantly, the fact that a couple does not live together does not preclude a finding that no cohabitation has occurred. A court will also consider the length of a relationship when determining whether a couple is cohabitating for purposes of terminating alimony under New Jersey Statutes § 24:34-23.
Consult DeTommaso Law Group to Discuss Your Legal Rights and Options
If you have any questions or concerns about a legal matter involving New Jersey family law, such as your rights and responsibilities regarding alimony and spousal support, you should seek the professional legal advice of one of our attorneys at DeTommaso Law Group. We offer legal solutions that are custom-tailored to the specifics of your case.