A recent Morris County, case pending decision raises some interesting questions regarding alimony and cohabitation. Must the payor of alimony continue to fulfill his/her obligation when their ex-spouse is cohabiting with another person?
In the case in question, William and Yvonne Kloehn divorced in 2007 after 22 years years of marriage. William alleges that his ex-wife is in a serious relationship which, under the New Jersey Alimony Reform Act, constitutes a cohabitation style relationship. He is seeking to terminate his alimony obligations to her, while the wife is arguing that her relationship does not constitute “cohabitation”.
According to the Alimony Reform Act, the definition of cohabitation is as follows:
- If the couple has intertwined finances, including payment of expenses by one party for the other
- If the couple shares living expenses, reducing the financial obligation of the receiver of alimony
- If the couple shares household chores, reflecting a “marital style” relationship
- If the couples’ relationship is recognized by their families and social circle as a “marital style” relationship
If a couple meets any or all of these requirements, under the Alimony Reform Act they are considered to be engaged in a cohabitation style relationship, and as such previous alimony obligations may be modified or terminated.
The ex-husband William claims that his ex-wife is in fact engaged in such a relationship. He has produced an internet posting in which his ex-wife is announcing that herself and her boyfriend joined the Park Avenue Club together, as a couple. He further claims that communications such as emails and texts between his ex and her boyfriend demonstrate cohabitation under the Alimony Reform Act.
Counter to these claims, Yvonne states that while she has regularly been dating her new boyfriend since 2008, they do not share a common residence, nor have they co-mingled their finances. The wife has filed documents to the court demonstrating that she pays all of her own bills, and maintains her own residence. Furthermore, her boyfriend has filed documents showing that he resides with his disabled brother, and prefers to have “his own space”.
It is unclear which way the judge is currently leaning in this matter, but a decision either way could greatly impact future spousal support and alimony modifications.
Regardless which way the judge ultimately rules, the fact of the matter is that for any issues related to divorce such as division of assets, alimony, child support, and child custody, having an experienced Morristown family law attorney can be of great benefit. Our attorneys at Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark have extensive experience helping clients with their divorce matters, no matter what the circumstances.
If you are considering a divorce, or are currently under-going a divorce and wish to explore your options, contact us online today or through our Morristown offices in order to discuss your case with one of our family law attorneys today.