In the recent case of Bischoff v Bischoff, the New Jersey Appellate Division reviewed a Lower Court’s determination that the Husband’s alimony obligation should not terminate based on the ex-Wife’s alleged cohabitation with her paramour. The parties’ Marital Settlement Agreement provided for termination of alimony if the Wife cohabited with an unrelated person in a relationship akin to marriage. The Court held that although the ex-Wife and her paramour had a stable romantic relationship, their living arrangements did not constitute cohabitation.
The Court found that there was no indication of the relationship’s permanency, and there was no evidence to support the parties’ mutual interdependence. The ex-Wife’s paramour was not responsible for, nor did he contribute to the support of the ex-Wife. It was also determined that the ex-Wife did not contribute to the support of her paramour. Their relationship consisted of spending time together for vacations, holidays and most weekends. They also observed the children’s athletic activities together, and the paramour had access to the ex-Wife’s residence. Some of the paramour’s belongings remained on the premises and he was seen maintaining the lawn, walking the dog and running errands. However the paramour maintained a one-bedroom apartment and used that address on his license and tax returns. The Court found that there was no established sharing of a common residence, of joint bank accounts, or joint contributions for household expenses. While there was an intimate romantic relationship, it was a dating relationship.
In order for alimony to have been terminated in this case, there must have been a finding of cohabitation that showed stability, permanency and mutual interdependence of the relationship.