Think your former spouse has a serious partner? If so, you may wonder if you still have to keep paying alimony. Similarly, if you have a new partner post-divorce, you may wonder if or how long you can still get alimony if you don't get remarried. The answer depends in part on whether the new couple is living together. Before 2014, if the new couple didn't officially live together, they were not considered to be cohabitating. Therefore, it would be difficult for someone seeking to terminate alimony to make a successful case on those grounds.
A recent law, however, has lowered the bar for what constitutes cohabitation, making it easier in theory for those paying alimony to terminate payments. The changes came as part of the New Jersey Alimony Reform Act of 2014. Under the law, a couple need not be officially living in the same residence to be considered to be cohabitating.
What Constitutes Cohabitation Now?
The Alimony Reform Act of 2014 has identified eight factors a judge may use to weigh whether someone who is receiving alimony is cohabitating with a new partner. The partner seeking to terminate alimony on these grounds does not have to prove all eight points, and a judge has discretion in deciding if cohabitation is occurring based on some combination of the following factors:
· Shared finances
· Shared living expenses
· Shared household chores
· Social awareness of the new couple
· The degree to which the new couple spends time together
· The length of the relationship
· Promises of financial support from the new partner
· Other factors
While the new law could provide relief for spouses seeking to terminate alimony, it could also cause trepidation in those who depend on alimony payments. Whether you are seeking to terminate your alimony payments to a spouse or need to defend yourself against an attempt to do so by your spouse who is paying alimony, you will need an experienced lawyer who understands the new law and the proof required to make such a case.