It is becoming more and more common for couples to cohabitate; that is, live together, in a relationship without the bond of marriage. Many couples find this arrangement to be a great way to “test the waters” before jumping into marriage.
If you are divorced, receiving alimony from a former spouse and are thinking about “testing those waters,” you should read this article carefully, because your romantic life may have a significant impact on your financial future. If you are paying alimony, you should be aware of the changes to the law, as they may impact your obligation to continue to pay alimony.
Most divorcees are aware that if they receive or pay alimony, the obligation will automatically terminate if the recipient remarries (in most cases). Many divorcees also know that if the recipient of alimony lives with their significant other, it may impact alimony. The new alimony statute, N.J.S.A. 2A:34-23(n) enacted on September 10, 2014 provides clarification to help Courts and practitioners to determine if a party is cohabiting.
A noteworthy addition to the law regarding cohabitation is the Legislature‘s overt recognition that some couples may be cohabitating without living together full-time. The new statute specifically states that a Judge cannot find the absence of cohabitation based on “grounds that the couple does not live together on a full-time basis.” This language certainly changes the game, as many people may have believed that if a couple was maintaining two separate households, that factor would carry the day in defining whether or not cohabitation was occurring. The moral of the story is that a person may be deemed to be cohabiting even if he/she maintains a separate residence from their significant other.