Proving Cohabitation to Terminate Alimony in New Jersey

Posted May 1, 2023

  • Proving Cohabitation to Terminate Alimony in New Jersey

New Jersey Courts have long held that proof of a dependent spouse’s cohabitation with another person as a sufficient prima facie showing of “changed circumstances,” warranting a suspension or termination of alimony. Cohabitation in New Jersey is governed by statute, specifically N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23(n). The New Jersey statute specifically states: “[a]limony may be suspended or terminated if the payee cohabits with another person. 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.”

In determining whether cohabitation exists, the Court must consider six express factors, as well as a seventh “catch-all” related to any relevant evidence. N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23(n). Under N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23(n), the enumerated factors the Court must consider are as follows:

  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; and
  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.

In addition to the factors listed above, which represent the minimum which must be contemplated, Courts will also review any other factors deemed relevant. Each case that comes before the Court is different and the Superior Court Judge will weigh the totality of the circumstances in deciding whether cohabitation exists. If you have any questions with regard to this blog, please contact my office.

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