As frequent readers of this blog may know, earlier this year, we were the winning attorneys in the landmark palimony case, Maeker v. Ross. My post on that case on this blog was entitled Is Palimomy In New Jersey Over As We Knew It? Since the Supreme Court recently granted Certification, we will
If there is cohabitation by an ex-spouse who receives alimony, the ex-spouse is at risk not only to a potential decrease in alimony but also at risk for a total termination of alimony. On March 7, 2013, the New Jersey Appellate Division released the published decision of Reese v. Weis upholding a trial court’s …
It seems as though a wave of cohabitation cases has recently swept across the Appellate Division in New Jersey. And for good reason. While well-settled is the concept that a supported spouse’s cohabitation typically will constitute a change of circumstances sufficient to justify end of a supporting spouse’s alimony obligation, the nuances of the law can be quite involved. This can been seen from the Appellate Division’s February decision in the case of Wonderlin v. Wonderlin, on which Sandra Fava blogged. That holding came down to evidence of the times and frequency that an unrelated male came and went from a former wife’s home, which, the Appellate Division ruled, entitled a former husband to discovery on the issue of whether the wife was cohabitating.
While the comings and goings of an unrelated male can be one indicia of cohabitation, in the case of Okoshi-Wilson v. Wilson, the Appellate Division examined a different source to prove cohabitation: the wife’s earnings as compared to her expenditures. There, the husband moved for a termination of his alimony obligation on the basis of the wife’s cohabitation with an unrelated male.
It seemed, based on the proofs submitted, that the husband had always earned a significantly greater salary than the wife, with the wife only earning about $47,000 in 2008 after her alimony of $22,500 per year was considered, as compared to the husband’s $164,164 the year prior. Despite this fact, the wife was apparently living in a posh, three-bedroom Upper East Side apartment, which she clearly was unable to afford on her salary alone. As it turned out, also a tenant of the same apartment was an unrelated male by the name of Steven Macy. This revelation led to the husband’s application for a termination of his alimony obligations. During the hearing at the trial level, Okoshi admitted that she had been able to maintain her New York City residence, because she was Macy’s tenant, allegedly paying him only $135 per week in rent and household work such as watering the plants, purchasing food, and collecting the mail. She further testified that Macy and his daughter only stay at the apartment about five times per month. Okoshi had documents to support some of her assertions — a lease signed by her and Macy and receipts for rent she paid in cash. She denied any romantic involvement with Macy and said he does not support her in any way.
On March 10, 2009, the Appellate Division issued a precedential (reported) decision on the issue of the possession of a dog in the case of Houseman v. Dare. To see the full text of the case, click here.
The parties were together for 13 years. In 1999 they purchased a house together. In 2000, they got engaged (but never married). In 2003, they purchased a pedigree dog for $1,500. Both parties were listed as the owners on the papers filed with the American Kennel Club.
In May 2006 Dare decided to end his relationship with Houseman. At that time, he wanted to stay in the house and purchase her interest in the property for $45,000 which was what he represented half of the equity to be. In June 2006, she signed a deed transferring her interest in the house to him. When she vacated the residence in July 2006, Houseman took the dog and its paraphernalia with her.
There seems to be little dispute that there was an oral agreement that Houseman was going to take the dog with her as her own when the parties separated. However, thereafter, she allowed Dare to visit with the dog. On one occasion in 2007 after watching the dog while Houseman was on vacation, he refused to give the dog back and the lawsuit ensued wherein she sought specific performance of their agreement that she keep the dog.
On February 3, 2009, my colleague, Katherine R. Sookhoo, an associate in or Philadelphia office, wrote a very interesting article on cohabitation in our Pennsylvania Family Blog entitled For Love or Money. I found the blog interesting for two reasons. First, the rule of law between Pennsylvania and New Jersey are significantly different. Second, although different, the difficulty litigants …
The law surrounding palimony has been fluid in the last several months as the New Jersey Courts have refined litigants rights after the break up of relationships in which the parties were not married. Most of the decisions are consistent with the New Jersey Supreme Court’s decision in Kozlowski v. Kozlowski, 80 N.J. 378 …