After a divorce, individuals may get into new relationships. This can affect many aspects of their life, including, who they spend time the majority of their time with and even their financial situation. In some instances, when a new relationship results in the partners living together, the ex-spouse may request a reduction or termination in their alimony payments. In a recent New Jersey case, an appellate court was tasked with determining whether a woman was cohabitating with her new partner, which would result in a termination of alimony payments from her ex-husband. Ultimately, the court determined that the ex-husband did not present enough evidence to prove his former wife and her new fiancée were cohabitating—thus, there was no termination of alimony payments.
In this case, the former couple was married for over twenty-four years before getting a divorce. During their final divorce proceedings, they signed a marital settlement agreement, which provided that if the wife cohabitated with a future romantic partner, the husband could request an alimony review that could result in a termination of alimony. Seven years after the signing of the agreement, the ex-husband moved to terminate his alimony obligation because he claimed his ex-wife was living with her new fiancée.
The defendant argued that the cohabitation provision in the marital settlement agreement was triggered because the ex-wife and her fiancée had been in a continuous relationship for over six years, and the fiancée played a critical role in his and the ex-wife’s youngest child’s life—including attending dance recitals, paying for family dinners and driving her to the airport. However, the lower court ruled that the ex-husband did not meet the standard for cohabitation under New Jersey law.