In the midst of our ongoing quest for guidance as to how and when to apply the 2014 cohabitation statute, comes the Appellate Division’s recent unpublished (not precedential) decision in J.S. v. J.M.  While the decision does not reveal much in the way of noteworthy substance beyond what we have already seen in other post-statute

While we await guidance from the Appellate Division on how to interpret that portion of the amended alimony statute’s cohabitation provision, N.J.S.A. 2A:32-23n, indicating that alimony may be “suspended or terminated” in the event of a payee former spouse’s cohabitation, and whether the pre-statute “economic benefits” test remains alive and well, we are seeing newer

Amicably settling your divorce matter is almost always better than taking your chances at a trial before a trial judge who knows almost nothing about your life. Not only can settling save you substantial time and expense as compared to continued litigation, but also it provides you with the opportunity to end the case on

While the Appellate Division has yet to address the substantive application and meaning of the cohabitation provisions of the amended alimony law, it has now determined twice when the law may apply.

In October, I wrote about how the Appellate Division in Spangenberg v. Kolakowsi, a reported (precedential) decision, held that the cohabitation

With New Jersey’s amended alimony statute becoming effective on September 10, 2014, many questions have arisen as to how the statute will apply and the meaning of many of the new terms contained therein.  The Appellate Division’s newly reported (precedential) decision in Spangenberg v. Kolakowski provides some insight from the judiciary that we have been

Change is finally here – On September 10, 2014, Governor Chris Christie signed into law substantial and significant amendments to New Jersey’s alimony law.  The law took immediate effect on that date.  I previously blogged about the now effective changes after the legislature passed the bill during the Summer, and we have prepared an Alert

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

For those of you have have followed the continuum in New Jersey’s palimony law, October has proven to be a busy month, with not one but two opinions.

Nearly one year ago, the NJ legislature passed law that, in sum, prohibited the enforcement of palimony agreements that have not been put in writing.  When the new law went into effect, we quickly blogged on the breaking news.

With the passage of N.J.S.A. 25:1-5(h) came many questions.  Attorneys and litigants wondered what would happen to those cases already pending before the court; what would happen to those who had valid claims for palimony under what had previously been the law in NJ but did not yet act?  Lots had an opinion, but really only time would tell.  Botis v. Estate of Kudrick, 421 N.J. Super, 107 (App. Div. 2011) provided some guidance, telling practitioners and litigants alike that the statute applied only to suits filed after its effective date.

On October 6, 2011, a Hudson County Superior Court judge upheld a non-written palimony agreement, finding overwhelming evidence that the parties “lived together, and had made a commitment to each other to support each other, to share with each other, and most of all, as is implicit in every agreement, to treat each other fairly and avoid harm to the other.”

In the matter of Fernandes v. Arantes,  this same sex couple had been living together since 1996.  In 2005, after 11 years of living together in various locations all over the world, they bought a home in Jersey City, however only Arantes’ name was on the deed (although Fernandes’ was added later). The parties never married or entered a formal union but did exchange vows in an informal setting, shared expenses and investments, and supported each other financially, claimed Fernandes.

In April 2009, Arantes obtained a temporary restraining order against Fernandes.  The case was dismissed although a no-contact order was issued, which prevented Fernandes from accessing the Jersey City home.  On October 20, 2009, Fernandes filed a motion which sought access to the home to retrieve belongings and replacement of $80,000 Arantes allegedly withdrew from a joint bank account.  On February 15, 2011, an amended complaint was filed, alleging palimony and unjust enrichment.  In defense, Arantes claimed the relationship ended in 2001 and the parties only continued to live together for financial reasons.

After hearing testimony, the trial judge found that the relationship was that of a marital-type relationship.  Finding that “[p]arties who entered into these kinds of relationships usually do not record their understanding in specific legalese”, the trial court awarded Fernandes’ claim of palimony, although the amended complaint was filed after the passage of the statute.

As this is a trial court opinion, it is not binding on other courts.


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