Most divorce cases in New Jersey don’t go to trial but settle instead. Rather than a protracted and expensive court battle, the parties agree on the issues without having to go to a judge. The settlement in New Jersey is called a marital settlement agreement (MSA).
Instead of a divorce trial, you would bring the MSA to the judge and ask him or her to incorporate the terms of the settlement agreement into the judgment of divorce. The courts have started to permit divorces with MSAs to be granted without court appearances.
One of the biggest issues resolved in an MSA is alimony, i.e., how much support does one ex-spouse have to pay the other, and for how long.
Cohabitation after divorce and alimony
Cohabitation is when the supported spouse is living with a paramour or romantic partner. When you settle the divorce with an MSA, you go through the terms of the spousal support and you agree with your ex-spouse about the circumstances when alimony ends.
You may specifically say in your marital settlement agreement with your ex-spouse that alimony ends if you cohabitate in a marriage-like relationship.
Before the law was amended in 2014, New Jersey case law was that alimony doesn’t necessarily end upon cohabitation. It could have been (past tense) modified by the amount of the benefit that the supported spouse received from the new romantic partner. In 2014, modification of alimony based on cohabitation was taken off the table in the statute.
Older settlement agreements that were entered before the statute include provisions that alimony may be modified based on cohabitation and may remain enforceable.