Getting divorced does not mean it is impossible to find love again. However, new relationships do not necessarily mean a subsequent wedding is in the cards. More and more couples are electing to live together in place of remarriage. So, what is the impact of cohabitation on alimony payments?
Just about everyone knows that alimony payments cease once the recipient remarries. However, what about dating relationships? When do they rise to the level of cohabitation? No doubt the person making spousal support payments may have questions. When does the commitment end?
First, there is the issue of what constitutes cohabitation when couples get together. NJSA 2A:34-23, referred to as the Alimony statute, offers some valuable insight. Of interest, is that the statute defines cohabitation as “… a mutually supportive, intimate personal relationship in which a couple has undertaken duties and privileges that are commonly associated with marriage or civil union but does not necessarily maintain a single common household.”
Truth be told, this just the beginning when it comes to cohabitation. There are an assortment of considerations when determining the validity of an application for termination of alimony. Generally speaking, it’s the individual expected to pay spousal support that goes to court citing a change in circumstances.
A couple of weeks ago, the New Jersey Appellate Division reviewed the decision of a trial court judge regarding ending alimony payments. Although this particular ruling only applies to the named parties, it may interest you.
Recent Case on Cohabitation and Alimony
The Salvatore v. Salvatore case was submitted to the New Jersey Appellate Division on June 5, 2018 and decided on June 28, 2018. The plaintiff and appellant in this matter is John W. Salvatore. Meanwhile, the defendant-respondent is his former wife, Stacey Salvatore, now known as Stacey Adubato.
The parties divorced in February of 2011 and incorporated a martial settlement agreement (MSA) as part of their final divorce. According to the MSA, John was expected to make monthly alimony payments to Stacey in the amount of $3,333.33. Meanwhile, the MSA listed specifics regarding the termination of John’s spousal support obligations.
For starters, alimony would end if Stacey remarried. Once Stacey reached her sixty-sixth birthday, she would no longer receive spousal support. If either party died, support obligations would cease. (That said, John also provided a life insurance policy payable to Stacey in the event of his death. The policy was valued at $450K, but “would be proportionately reduced commensurate with his alimony obligation.”)