There are many issues that must be decided when a couple has decided that they are getting a divorce before the final order can be entered by the court. If the couple is not able to agree, then the judge will issue a ruling based on evidence presented and arguments that were made. One of the most contentious issues in a divorce often is the award of alimony, which is a payment from one person to his or her former spouse based on the relative economic positions and earning capacities of the two spouses. Once the alimony has been calculated and the order has been entered, there will not be any changes to the award unless one person can demonstrate changed circumstances.
Either spouse can argue that there are sufficient changed circumstances to justify either an increase or decrease in the amount of alimony that must be paid. One of the changes that may lead to a revision of an alimony award is when the recipient of the alimony begins cohabitation with another person. The reason for this change is that there is a presumption that the recipient no longer has to pay all of the household expenses. The person paying the alimony often becomes frustrated because he or she may believe that the payments are being used to supplement the lifestyle of the new couple.
Under New Jersey law, a couple qualifies as cohabitation if they satisfy the criteria established under the Alimony Reform Act, as interpreted by courts across the state. The factors that a court will look at when making a determination that a couple is cohabitating include:
- The couple shares responsibility for paying living expenses;
- The couple intermingles their funds;
- The couples shares household chores;
- The couple lives together and regularly interacts in a social manner;
- The couple has been together long enough to be viewed as significant;
- The friends and family recognize the two as a couple;
- There is a promise of support between the two people;
- Any other factors that may be used to demonstrate that the couple is cohabitating.
In many cases, it is necessary to introduce evidence about the cohabitation because the person receiving the alimony does not want to give up the payments. Even after cohabitation has been established, the person who receives the alimony payment still many be able to maintain the payments by proving that he or she still requires the money to satisfy living expenses, even though there may be another person sharing the household responsibilities.
It is possible to get alimony payments reduced or eliminated completely. If the person seeking the modification is able to prove the following then he or she may be successful in the efforts to eliminate, or significantly reduce, alimony payments:
- The person receiving the alimony cannot offer compelling evidence that he or she still needs the alimony;
- The person with whom the former spouse is cohabiting financially supports the former spouse;
- The former spouse receives indirect financial support;
- The former spouse has been in a relationship with the cohabitation partner longer than he or she was married to the person making alimony payments.
The Bronzino Law Firm Helps People During and After a Divorce
New Jersey Family Law Attorney Peter J. Bronzino knows that many issues, including cohabitation and the payment of alimony, continue after the finalization of a divorce and he is committed to working with his clients in order to achieve the results that they need. The Bronzino Law Firm is located in Brick, New Jersey. We serve clients in Monmouth County, Ocean County, and the surrounding area. If you have questions about obtaining a divorce in New Jersey, or modifying a previously entered order, schedule a free consultation by calling us at (732) 812-3102.