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Understanding Cohabitation in NJ

Moving In Together

What Is Cohabitation in New Jersey?  

New Jersey law defines cohabitation as “a mutually supportive, intimate personal relationship” where a couple has similar duties and privileges as those involved in a marriage or civil union. There is no way that cohabitation can really be formalized.  

In this blog, we will discuss when cohabitation can have an effect on family law matters, such as divorce and alimony cases. We will also discuss common law marriages and the difference between cohabitation and marriage.  

Cohabitation & Its Effects on Alimony  

It is a well-known fact that alimony can be terminated if the recipient spouse remarries. Thus, some people with a new partner refuse to marry so they can continue to receive spousal support. To discourage this practice, in New Jersey, alimony can be modified or terminated if the recipient spouse is shown to be in a cohabitation relationship with another person for at least three months.  

However, it is important to note that if the cohabitation relationship is ended, alimony can be reinstated. If the award was for a limited duration, the reinstated alimony award will not be extended past the original deadline.  

How to Prove Cohabitation  

The payor spouse will have the burden of proof and must show that the other party is involved in a cohabitation relationship. The court does recognize that cohabitation does not simply occur when a couple shares a single household full-time. Cohabitation can include:  

  • Having joint financial accounts or other joint financial holdings  

  • Being known to be in a relationship within your social or familial circle  

  • Sharing household responsibilities (as it relates to chores)  

  • Sharing financial responsibilities for a household 

Evidence that can be used to prove cohabitation includes:  

  • Joint lease or rental agreements with both partners' names listed 

  • Utility bills, such as electricity, water, or internet, addressed to both partners 

  • Joint mortgage or loan agreements 

  • Joint bank account statements  

  • Joint credit card statements 

  • Insurance policies listing both partners as policyholders or beneficiaries 

  • Mail or packages addressed to both partners at the same address 

  • Photos or videos showing both partners living together 

  • Witnesses who can testify to the couple's living situation 

It is in your best interest to obtain a reliable attorney if you are seeking to prove your spouse is a cohabitation relationship. An experienced attorney can help you connect with third-party professionals like private investigators that can help you investigate and gather evidence. Obtaining any of the aforementioned evidence can be difficult to do without help.  

What Is Common Law Marriage? 

Common law marriages refer to unions established when a couple lives together (or cohabitates). While couples engaged in a common law marriage never officially file for or receive a marriage license, they present themselves as married. In states where common law marriage is recognized, common law spouses have inheritance rights, can file joint tax returns, and have the right to obtain spousal support, child support, and other obligations when they separate. 

It is important to note that cohabitation alone is not enough to establish a common law marriage. The essential elements required for a common law marriage to exist include cohabitation, mutual agreement to be married, and holding oneself out as a married couple.  

Does New Jersey Recognize Common Law Marriage?  

While New jersey previously recognized common law marriages, in 1939, the state passed a law that eliminated common law marriages within its borders. Any common law marriages entered into after this date are not considered valid.  

As such, it is important to note that when it comes to property, inheritance, and other benefits, unmarried couples living together in New Jersey do not have the same rights as those who are legally married. For example, an unmarried couple may not be able to receive spousal support from one another or share health insurance coverage through their partner's employer-sponsored plan. Also, when it comes to inheritance laws, unmarried partners may not be eligible for certain assets or financial benefits upon their partner's death unless they have been designated as such in a will or trust document. 

Trusted Family Law Firm Serving Clients in NJ  

William Kirby Law, Family Law Attorneys is backed by over two decades of legal experience. Our firm has helped countless clients pursue post-judgement modifications. If you suspect that your spouse is cohabitating with someone, we can help you collect evidence and build a case to prove cohabitation. Known for being compassionate and providing high-quality legal counsel, you can trust our team with your case.  

To discuss your case with our attorney, call (215) 515-9901 today.