As you may have heard, it just got a bit easier in New Jersey to prove cohabitation, i.e. that your former spouse is in a serious relationship with their new partner! Specifically, now, you no longer need to prove that your former spouse is living with their new love interest on a full-time basis. This is huge! So, what evidence do you need to present to the Court to evidence that your former spouse has entered into more than a causal dating relationship?! The simple answer: as many proofs as you can find to meet your initial burden as follows:
I always encourage my clients to first start out by “playing detective.” I advise clients to search social media, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the like to start their initial investigation, i.e. to see how often the new couple “check-ins” at various concerts, restaurants, family events, vacations, etc. Not only will the “check-ins” start to show a pattern of the frequency of the contact between the new couple, but it will also show 1.) the money that the couple spends on one another 2.) whether the couple is in a ‘serious relationship’ such that they have shared their relationship with their children and their family/friends and 3.) whether the couple shares holidays together.
If after gathering the social media information we have a good foundation to expect that the couple is involved in more than a causal dating relationship, then I speak to my client about retaining a private investigator (the real detective) to confirm that the couple is spending overnights together, performing chores together and whether one party has forwarded mail/registered his/her car to the other parties’ home. Once we have gathered as much information as we can, I then sit down with my client and discuss our chances of success if we file an application with the Court to see if we met our primary burden.
If we believe that a Court would also agree that the new couple is in a serious dating relationship that rises to the level of cohabitation, then we prepare an application to the Superior Court of New Jersey to request a plenary hearing (a mini trial) to further prove our case. In addition to our request for the plenary hearing, we also request the right to send out subpoenas (to gather bank account statements, credit card statements and other financial information to show that the new couple has commingled finances) and to send out deposition notices (to ask questions of individuals who may have relevant information about the couple.) The wealth of information that an individual can obtain from subpoenas and depositions is outstanding and a wonderful discovery tool to further support your case.
It is difficult to prove cohabitation, but with hard work and through perseverance you can find enough evidence to prove your right to terminate/suspend your alimony obligation.
The information contained in this publication should not be construed as legal advice, is not a substitute for legal counsel, and should not be relied on as such. For legal advice or answers to specific questions, please contact one of our attorneys.
Shari B. Veisblatt represents clients in all aspects and stages of matrimonial litigation, including divorce and separation, custody, child and spousal support, equitable distribution and alimony and domestic abuse. She works out of the firm’s Cherry Hill, NJ office and can be reached at 856-857-1431 or at Shari.Veisblatt@obermayer.com.