Increasingly, adults are choosing to enter into “marital-style” relationships while remaining legally unmarried. This kind of relationship is referred to legally as “cohabitation”, and cohabitation can have a number of implications to existing divorce agreements such as alimony and child support.
These implications come in the form of post-divorce modifications, specifically in the way that this kind of “cohabitative” relationship can be considered a “significant change in circumstance” for its participants, the key requirement for requesting, and ultimately obtaining, post-divorce modifications to child support agreements and alimony agreements.
So when exactly is a relationship between two adults “just a relationship”, and when might it be considered “cohabitation”? Let’s take a look.
Cohabitation and Post-Divorce Modification Attorneys Morris County, NJ
When a party files for a spousal support modification or a child support modification on the basis that the dependent party has entered into a “mutually supportive, marital-style” relationship i.e. cohabitation, there are several factors that the court will take into consideration when determining whether or not the relationship in question is, in fact, cohabitation.
These factors which determine whether or not cohabitation is taking place are:
- If the parties are sharing living expenses
- How frequently the couple is in contact with one another
- If their relationship is recognized by friends, family, and acquantences
- How long the relationship has existed
- If the couple helps each-other with household chores and expenses
- If there exists some promise of financial support between the couples
- The degree to which their finances are commingled i.e. shared bank accounts and shared finances/expenses
Of course, not every one of these factors needs to be proven to the court, or even true, in order for the court to find that a relationship constitutes a “marital-style”, cohabitative relationship. Furthermore, courts are given the discretion to weigh these factors and their answers differently on a case-by-case basis.
This means that if you are filing for an alimony modification or child support modification based on your former spouse’s cohabitation with another adult, or your former spouse has filed for one these post-divorce modificaitons on the basis of your current relationship with another adult, having the counsel of an experienced Chester divorce and family law attorney on your side can be of significant benefit. Your attorney can help you to prove or disprove that a marital-style relationship is taking place, thus either allowing for the post-divorce modification process to proceed to the hearing stage, or for the request to be denied on the basis that circumstances have not changed substantially (that is, cohabitation is not taking place).
Parsippany, NJ Cohabitation Agreement Lawyers and “Agreements for Unmarried Couples”
Beyond the implications that cohabitation can have on existing divorce agreements like alimony and child support, there is also the possibility that coupes who are participating in this kind of “marital-style” relationship will want to legally define their financial rights and responsibilities to one another in the form of a cohabitation agreement.
Cohabitation agreements can help unmarried couples to define which assets are jointly-owned assets, which assets are individually owned, and also outline terms for continued financial support from one party to the other should the relationship end.
Beyond this highly important financial aspect, cohabitation agreements can also critically grant the couple certain legal rights normally only associated with marriage. For example, a cohabitation agreement can allow for parties to include each-other on health care and life insurance policies, grant power of attorney, and allow the parties to be informed and make decisions in the event of a medical emergency.
Of course, if you are considering entering into a cohabitation agreement with your partner, it is highly recommended that you consult with an experienced Parsippany Cohabitation agreement lawyer in order to ensure that your agreement accurately reflects the idea and concerns that you would like it to, both individually and as a couple.
Contact Our Morristown Post-Divorce Modification and Cohabitation Attorneys Today
At The Law Office of Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark, our attorneys have extensive experience helping clients to successfully resolve all manner of post-divorce modification and enforcement issues, and issues related to cohabitation including the drafting, signing, validation, and contesting of cohabitation agreements in towns across New Jersey and Morris County, including Chester, Chatham, Parsippany, Mendham, Harding, Morris Township, and Morristown.
To speak with our divorce and family law firm today in a free and confidential consultation regarding your unique needs and concerns when it comes to any kind of family law matter, including any and all matters related to cohabitation, please contact us online, or through our Morristown, NJ office at (973) 828-0829.