Embrace the Power of the 2014 Alimony Law – Cohabitation Ends Alimony
By Jeff J. Horn, Esquire
Litigating post-divorce Cohabitation and Alimony
You are required to pay alimony. Your ex-spouse lives with a significant other. Who should you call first, the private investigator or your divorce lawyer? If you can prove your ex-spouse lives with a significant other, does cohabitation and alimony?
As a divorce and family law lawyer for over 20 years, I am often tasked with terminating alimony. We litigate cohabitation cases every year. The reason is simple: cohabitation ends alimony. New Jersey law has evolved on the issue of cohabitation and alimony. Here is a link to the 2014 alimony statute – 2014 New Jersey Revised Statutes :: Title 2A – ADMINISTRATION OF CIVIL AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE :: Section 2A:34-23 – Alimony, maintenance. A key provision shifted the analysis on cohabitation ends alimony from mere co-location to an analysis of intertwined finances. Cohabitation – the act of living together matters less.
Living together – Cohabitation Ends Alimony
Cohabitation questions beget even more questions. Keep it simple. Living together, lock stock & barrel ends alimony. When the living arrangements are not in question, there is no need to litigate when cohabitation ends alimony. Those cases are easy to prove. It is never so simple.
Your ex-spouse keeps a separate residence. She receives mail there and government documents are all registered there. She spends the bulk of her time and overnights at the home of the significant other. Or, the reverse, the significant other keeps a separate address while shacking up with your ex. The litigant must prove a prima facie case of cohabitation using intertwined finances.
How to prove Intertwined Finances and Cohabitation?
I still want to show living arrangements through the eyes of an independent investigator. Winning the case means cohabitation ends alimony and propels major freedom for the alimony payer.
Gather Street Intelligence.
Shockingly, people you know tell you your spouse is “shacking up.” You perform a search of social media ( warning – if you have a restraining order against you – do none of the research!)
PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR (PI)
- Performs a computer check.
- Performs initial surveillance.
- Places a static camera.
- Shares a report.
Here’s one I like to call https://www.linkedin.com/in/dennis-demey-4675751b/.
You continue to build your circumstantial case.
What are you looking for?
Indicia of living together. Not that tricky.
More important are intertwined finances.
- Does your ex-spouse share housing expenses?
- Does your ex-spouse share travel expenses?
- Do the lovebirds travel together?
- Are the children of your marriage or the other person’s children involved?
- Have there been changes in lifestyle?
- Has communication dropped off after your ex-spouse sensed your interest in her life?
Sometimes, it is just a hunch but a small investment can save you hundreds of thousands of dollars in future alimony.
You have Cohabitation – Now What?
Time for your divorce lawyer. Divorce lawyers love cohabitation cases. They are interesting. The stakes for a successful cohabitation case can be used. If my client pays $200,000 per year in alimony and has a long working life ahead, the cost of alimony is in the millions of dollars.
How much would you spend to avoid paying your ex-spouse millions of dollars?
The answer is, a lot. I have handled dozens of cohabitation cases. Only a few have resulted in trials. You got to a trial by convincing a judge that it looks like cohabitation. Then, the judge conducts a hearing. To prove your case that cohabitation ends alimony you will need facts that are controlled by your ex-spouse. discovery is conducted. Interrogatories are served and + cert. depositions are taken and transcribed.
What kind of information would you need?
Intertwined finances are the key. Subpoena bank records. Over time, gather travel information from all sources. Sometimes, you will hit the jackpot and a witness will point you to information sources. do not count on your ex-spouse to make the discovery process easy for you.
Cohabitation Ends Alimony – Emotional Impact
If you have children, be prepared for the unexpected emotional boomerang. Your ex may go crying to the children that you are trying to put her in the streets. Tolerate these emotions, let the case go. If you are my client and the cost is in the Millions of dollars you will have to deal with the emotions. Get ready.
How do Cohabitation cases end?
exactly three times in my career the ex completely admitted to cohabitation and signed an agreement terminating alimony. In all three of those cases, my client paid a couple extra months of alimony as insurance. It is way cheaper to pay a couple extra months of alimony than to pay me to litigate the case win or lose.
I have tried a bunch of cohabitation cases. The law seems pretty simple. Without fail, the facts are always opaque. If your ex is willing to spend thousands of dollars to hang on to alimony, she is going to fight to the virtual death.
My client lost a cohabitation case at trial.
Once upon a time, we had everything lined up perfectly. The law was on our side. The private investigator had tons of pictures of the other man coming and going from the ex-wife’s house. The adult child of the marriage confirmed that the guy live there. The guy’s car was registered to the address of the ex-wife. The ex-wife and alleged boyfriend testified that he was merely a roommate. the ex-wife and the alleged boyfriend had no dating relationship. He traded a room and in exchange provided care for the wife’s elderly mother. The case went down the tubes. That is the type of shocking twist that blows up an otherwise perfect case.
Cohabitation ends Alimony – Settlement
Most cohabitation cases and in a settlement. Even if your case is imperfect, your ex may see the benefit of ending alimony. She knows that you will spend all of your energy studying Her Moves. Every time she has a boyfriend for a few days, you will have them under surveillance. Likely, the ex-wife would like to freely live with a significant other or remarry. The fear of losing alimony may be worse than actually losing alimony. The cost of litigating a cohabitation case is used for both sides.
A principled settlement saves the day for both sides. You need to end alimony. You can agree to pay for six more months at the full rate. Or you can agree on a lump sum. Pay your ex one chunk of money in exchange for a permanent waiver. The cost of litigation + uncertainty of the result equals a big number. Do not make your alimony lawyer rich just to spite your ex-spouse.
You may even find that you can talk to each other peaceably after the alimony buy out is complete.
You save lots of time and money into the future. your ex-spouse is free to live her life. she gets a pile of money. there is no need for her to run around in secret anymore. Similarly, she avoids paying her divorce lawyer a whole bunch of money.
Cohabitation ends Alimony – it is a business deal.
Related Cohabitation – NJSA 2A:34-23 – Toms River Divorce Lawyer