For a long time, the law in New Jersey was that alimony needed to be paid until an ex-spouse was remarried. When this law was first enacted, it made sense. But over the past few decades, attitudes about marriage have changed. Whereas there used to be stigma about unmarried people cohabiting, that is long gone. Recently, an appeal of a court case made a big change to New Jersey law.
Cohabitation and New Jersey law
The alimony case behind the change involved a couple who had divorced after a long marriage. In the divorce, the judge granted the wife lifelong alimony. However, after several years, her ex-husband asked the court to end his alimony arrangement. He claimed that his ex-wife was cohabiting with another man. She countered that the man she was living with was not a romantic partner.
Eventually, the court decided that in these situations, the payor is entitled to discovery. That is, they’re entitled to shared information from the opposing team in the case. This kind of information can help a payor show that they’re being held responsible for supporting someone who now has a new and committed partner.
Even when there’s no legal discovery phase, it can be possible to demonstrate that an ex-spouse may be cohabiting with a new partner. For example, they may post pictures on social media of themselves together at home, on vacation, and in other settings. This may meet the standards for the state’s definition of cohabitation.
Before even asking for a change to alimony in New Jersey, payors will need to gather evidence like this to bring it to court. The court will not even hear the case if there’s nothing to show that the ex-spouse has a new partner.