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Your question is certainly a fair inquiry, however, much more information would be needed before making such a decision. Before you consider hiring a New Jersey Private Investigator, or even consulting with one you should put together a list of any and all information suggesting that your ex-spouse is cohabitating with another.  I do not want to be misunderstood, but if you are not in a position to have any such information beyond rumors, a New Jersey Private Detective could conduct a preliminary cohabitation investigation. Our private investigator agency has conducted many such preliminary investigations, often when the parties live a great distance from one another and the payor of alimony has limited information. Many of these preliminary Cohabitation Investigations have been successful, some have not.

A preliminary investigation is a way for a client to test the waters prior to jumping all in on the financial costs of a New Jersey Cohabitation Investigation. Over the past two years, our agency had three clients who began their investigations by conducting preliminary cohabitation investigations. All three of the preliminary investigations morphed into full-blown NJ Cohabitation Investigations. All three of the Cohabitation Investigations were successful resulting in overall savings to the three clients of approximately 1.5 million dollars in alimony payments.

What I have learned over the years running a New Jersey Private Investigator Firm, is that YOU MUST LISTEN TO THE CLIENT.  Our New Jersey Private Detective business investigates marital issues, such as Cohabitation/Alimony, Child Custody, and the Locating of Marital Assets. At times, your client will have information that he/she does not think is helpful, or even has a nexus to the cohabitation investigation. It is important that the private investigator you interview is knowledgeable in how to put together a cohabitation investigation that will result in the final overarching objective which is quite simply, the client pays a reduced amount of alimony or none at all.  


To be successful in an Alimony Investigation, the NJ Private Detectives’ goal is to gather, correlate, and present evidence of cohabitation in a succinct, comprehensive, and thorough report. The client should take that report to a NJ Family Law attorney for his/her review.  In a perfect world, an attorney will review the cohabitation report and advise the client that the report provides enough evidence of cohabitation in that the attorney for the payor of alimony could file a motion to terminate/reduce alimony. In order for the NJ Private Investigator’s Cohabitation Report to achieve its intended objective there must be enough evidence in where the NJ Family Court finds that the cohabitation report establishes a Prima Facie Showing of Cohabitation. 


A Prima Facie Showing of cohabitation occurs when the Payor of alimony produces enough evidence to allow the fact-trier to infer the fact at issue and rule in that party’s favor.  The New Jersey Supreme Court has defined prima facie evidence as that which is left “if unrebutted, would sustain a judgment Cohabitation in the proponent’s favor”.  In most instances, this evidence is gathered by a New Jersey Private Investigator, and presented in a thorough report, or reports. 

Often a New Jersey Private Detective will do two reports; 1. a succinct and thorough report on the private investigator’s activities during his/her investigation, and 2. A concise Social Media Report, however, this report is often not obtainable as many of the subjects of the investigation will only allow access to their social media to select persons.


The type of evidence a New Jersey Private Investigator will be basing his/her Alimony Investigation on the 2014 Revision to the NJ Alimony Law which somewhat changes the parameters of the cohabitation aspect of the law. The 2014 Revision to the New Jersey Statutes regulating alimony and the concept of cohabitation will be discussed in this section of the article. When rewriting some of the elements of the Alimony and Cohabitation laws the legislature had their eye on leveling the playing field for the “payors of alimony”. During this 2014 revision to the New Jersey Alimony Laws, as they apply to the Cohabitation Pursuant to the law, cohabitation involves an intimate, mutually supportive personal relationship in which a couple has undertaken privileges and duties that are commonly associated with marriage or civil union, but does not necessarily maintain a single common household.   

Most significant about this change, was that the NJ Alimony Law no longer applied only if there was one household between the couple. Now, cohabitation can be proved even if the couple being investigated maintain separate residences, reference link for the New Jersey Elements of Cohabitation 

  1. The second important change the NJ Legislature changed was the concept of what had been known as “Permanent Alimony”. No longer would the “Payor of Alimony” be required to pay alimony in perpetuity. The NJ Alimony Law now called for a concept known as “Open Duration Alimony”.

Alimony is no longer automatically assured for the life of the payee.  However, if both parties were married for twenty or more years, the New Jersey Alimony awarded could be considered “Open Durational”, there would not be a definitive time limit. A Payor of alimony would have to provide evidence of a change of circumstance which could still result in a modification or even termination. 

However, if the “payor” of alimony continues to work, and does not retire, and then the “payor and payee” of alimony had been married for more than twenty years, the payments could potentially remain the same for as long as there is not a change in circumstances. Although there are no time limitations on open durational alimony, the alimony law in New Jersey views a payors retirement as a valid change of circumstance, and this often occurs as the “payor and payee” get older, so it will often be rare for the payments to continue for life.

Other factors when assessing whether or not, cohabitation is occurring, a New Jersey Court will consider the following :

  1. Intertwined finances, including joint bank accounts and other joint liabilities or holdings;
  2. Sharing or joint responsibility for living expenses;
  3. Recognition of the relationship in the couple’s family and the social circle;
  4. Living together, frequency of contact, duration of the relationship, and other indicia of a mutually supportive and intimate personal relationship;
  5. Sharing in household chores;
  6. Whether the recipient of alimony received an enforceable promise of support from another person within the meaning of subsection h. of R.S.25:1-5 (“palimony”); and
  7. All other relevant evidence.


It is important for a New Jersey Private Investigator to obtain evidence corresponding to the elements of the NJ cohabitation law as described in the last two paragraphs in the previous section. It is always preferable to secure as much evidence as possible in order to reach the goal of achieving a prime facie showing of cohabitation under the New Jersey Alimony Laws.

  • The 2014 revisions to the New Jersey Cohabitation statute describe cohabitation as involving an intimate, mutually supportive personal relationship in which a couple has undertaken privileges and duties that are commonly associated with marriage or civil union, but the statute requires the couple to necessarily maintain a single common household.   

Our New Jersey Private Investigator Firm conducted multiple cases since the 2014 revision to the NJ Alimony Laws. An overwhelming majority of the subjects of the New Jersey Alimony Investigation had “separate residences”. In some of the “separate residence” cases, the couples created elaborate schemes in order to evade detection.  A woman pretended to live in a basement home of a single-family residence with her child, when in fact the basement home belonged to the woman’s boyfriend. An investigation determined the couple and child actually resided together several miles from the “alleged home”. On the other end of the spectrum, we would find the male part of the cohabitation list a friend or parents’ home as their address while actually residing with the recipient of the alimony.

In any event, whatever the scheme a couple creates there is always an investigation plan that can overcome the fraudulent scheme to continue receiving alimony.  In many instances, a private investigator can employ a full New Jersey Cohabitation Investigation through a combination of hidden cameras, surveillance, and background work on the couple.

  1. Another element of the New Jersey Alimony Law is if the investigator can determine interwoven finances, such as combined bank accounts and other shared liabilities or holdings.  In most instances, this element is established after a New Jersey Private Detective is successful in establishing a prima facie case of cohabitation, which would then entitle the payor of alimony to receive discovery in the case.  However, in several New Jersey Cohabitation Investigations, our agency was successful in identifying possible financial entanglements through the use of open-source social media investigations. In addition, we were also able to link the recipient of alimony through property ownership. However, as stated before the best way to discover intertwined finances is by the New Jersey Private Investigator presenting prime facie showing of cohabitation thereby permitting the client to obtain financial and other discoveries.
  2. A critical element in a New Jersey Cohabitation Investigation is the perception by the couple’s family and their social circle that the relationship is a serious one. Very often couples involved in a relationship cannot help themselves from shouting out to the world that they are involved in a serious and loving bond with one another.  Couples share this information by posting photographs to social media of themselves involved in couple activities, family events, and activities where they co-mingle with each other’s children or other family members.  It is amazing what people post which underscores the relationship as being a situation of cohabitation and thus indicating the fraudulent receipt of alimony.  This type of recklessness on the part of alimony recipients has often been the death knell of an ex-spouse’s alimony!!  Because, it is then easy for a New Jersey Private Investigator to conduct an open-source social media investigation and screen grab all those photographs, comments, and post “likes”. I have literally put together two hundred-plus pages in social media reports in addition to my overall activity report pertaining to the entirety of the cohabitation investigation. I cannot stress enough, if you are reading this article because you think your ex-spouse is cohabitating, pull as much social media as you can, and file it away chronologically, you will not regret it.
  3. Sharing or joint responsibility for living expenses is another element that a New Jersey Private Investigator can obtain evidence of. However, evidence of this element is best done in discovery after the private detective puts together a prima facie case which will then open up financial discovery. Private Investigators can often obtain some evidence of the sharing of living expenses through both social media and surveillance. For instance, I recently had a cohabitation case in which the subject continually posted the restaurants and multiple other places she and her boyfriend had visited and spent money on. While writing my social media report, I prominently displayed these places where the couple had spent money and a link to the particular business. The attorneys loved it because it provided them with a roadmap of where to look for the couple’s expenditures in their banking accounts and match it up to the social media report. Simply put, if the payee of alimony had not publicly posted where she and her boyfriend were spending money, we would not have been able to match up the expenses.  Also, as an example of surveillance and finances, in the same case I had just cited above, the payee of alimony went to a high-end Bergen County Grocery Store while I was surveilling her. When my subject came out of the store and loaded the bags into her car she drove away, and I followed her.  My subject drove straight to the boyfriend’s and brought several bags of groceries inside the home.
  4. The Elements in the New Jersey Alimony Law regarding living together, frequency of contact, duration of the relationship, and other indicia of a mutually supportive and intimate personal relationship are very important. These alimony elements are definitely in the wheelhouse of a New Jersey Private Detective while conducting an alimony investigation. When putting in place an investigation plan for this element it is critical to pick the client’s brain for any useful intelligence in terms of what is happening. Most investigations will have some amount of site surveillance by a New Jersey Private detective. In a perfect world (which is often the case) valuable evidence can be obtained by deploying hidden cameras to record activities. Depending on the case, it is possible to have up to four cameras deployed. The deployment of cameras is a work-intensive way of obtaining evidence, however, for the amount of time and coverage a client receives, the costs remain much less than the cost associated with “in-person surveillance”.  These hidden cameras selected for the right environment are often devastating to the subject that is being investigated. The hidden cameras often capture a plethora of evidence. Our hidden cameras will capture the subjects of our investigation kissing, embracing, doing tasks around the home, driving each other’s vehicles as well as all manners of activity at the homes being surveilled.  The amount of evidence a private detective can gather with the deployment of these cameras is limitless, only dictated by the activity at the location of camera deployment.  After seeing the evidence produced from these hidden static cameras, the recipient of alimony who is being investigated is often left with no other option but to take a settlement and end the alimony. As to the duration of the relationship, the duration is often time-stamped by some form of social media posting or other types of evidence such as photographs at sporting events, family functions, and/or other activities.
  5. Sharing in household chores”, this element of cohabitation is also an important area in which a New Jersey Private Detective can obtain relevant evidence. For instance, if there are two “potential residences” of both subjects, it will be possible to photograph both of the couple sharing chores. Our static hidden cameras often capture subjects sharing chores at their respective homes. Chores such as snow removal, the handling of garbage, gardening, and other landscaping activities. 

As to sharing the chores, a funny thing occurred once when I was conducting on-site surveillance and taking video. Early in the morning, from a distance, I captured the female subject of the investigation carrying out a large nylon bag from her boyfriend’s residence. In my opinion, the bag was a laundry-type bag, however, when doing a video on surveillance you’re focused on obtaining your video while at the same time being aware of your surroundings so no one sees that you are filming. I followed the female subject to her nearby residence, and once again I filmed the female bringing the bag into her house. Late that evening as my surveillance continued, I videoed the same scenario with the black bag, this time in reverse, the female subject leaves her home with the same bag and brings it back over to her boyfriend’s nearby home.  A couple of days later while pulling and reviewing my video from that three-day surveillance, I was shocked, and thought it very funny that the bag the female subject was carrying back and forth between the two homes actually had large white lettering stenciled from top to bottom of the bag that said “LAUNDRY”. I thought that rather funny, as a police officer for many years, I conducted many investigations, and when I saw that bag, I chuckled to myself and couldn’t help but thinking that the photographing of that laundry bag moving between homes was synonymous with finding and identifying the gun in a homicide investigation with a note pinned to it with the words “murder weapon”. 

 In any event, when a New Jersey Private Detective obtains evidence of a couple sharing chores during a Cohabitation Investigation you are also checking a second box, of a separate element in cohabitation, the private investigator is also demonstrating that the couple is also involved in a “mutually supportive” relationship.


In order to answer this question, one must just look back to the answers to the last two questions written above. A New Jersey Private Investigator will need to obtain evidence in as many of the elements which are listed in the New Jersey Alimony/Cohabitation law. A NJ Private Detective does not have to get overwhelming evidence in each element of cohabitation because more evidence in one element can overcome less evidence in another.

So, let‘s take a look at the elements of the NJ Cohabitation Laws in terms of evidence needed by a private detective in order to achieve his goal of achieving a prima facie case of cohabitation. 

  • When you call a New Jersey Private Investigator to inquire as to how to proceed in conducting a New Jersey Cohabitation Investigation, there is a very important question you should hear first.  The NJ private investigator is asking you how much in alimony are you paying each year. The second question you should hear is what is the term (length) of the alimony obligation? These are the two most important questions you should hear

Armed with this information a professional and ethical New Jersey Private Detective will be able to advise you as to whether or not the Alimony Investigation is worth pursuing from a financial perspective. In my opinion, if a client owes less than seventy thousand dollars, an alimony investigation is not worth pursuing because of expense vs. risk of failure. If a client owes between seventy thousand and one hundred and thirty thousand dollars, it may be worth pursuing a Cohabitation Investigation IF the client has a stomach for risk-taking. However, if there seems to be adequate evidence of cohabitation and the client owes over one hundred and thirty thousand dollars, it would be a proper decision for the client to at the very least authorize a preliminary Cohabitation Investigation.

  1. Before even calling the NJ private Investigator, have all the available and in front of you that makes you reasonably believe that your ex-spouse is cohabiting. The NJ Private detective should be asking you about the different items you have listed and his potential investigative approach. Nothing has to be set in stone during your conversation with the private investigator, but the investigator should be able to think on his feet and speak knowledgeably about the investigation and what the elements of the investigation are as well as what his ultimate investigative objective would be (prima facie case). 
  2. Ask the NJ Private Investigator what would the estimated costs of the cohabitation investigation would be.  If a NJ Private Detective gives you a flat rate price, my advice to you would politely thank the investigator for his time and hang up. I have cleaned numerous cases in which a private detective gave the client a flat rate price and the investigator did not even come close to achieving a prime facie case of cohabitation. I had one case in which the client was charged twenty-five dollars to even have a five-minute conversation with the NJ Private Investigator.

New Jersey Cohabitation cases can be expensive if you have the desire to succeed in reaching the objective of achieving a prime facie case. NJ Cohabitations are relatively inexpensive when the investigator undercharges the client, does a couple of days of surveillance, and gives you a worthless report. Just make sure whomever you are speaking with is knowledgeable in the NJ alimony laws and comes across as honest.

  1. If after talking to a New Jersey Cohabitation Investigator and you like proceeding, as the private detective if the case would be subcontracted out. Far too many New Jersey Private Investigators subcontract their investigations out after taking a healthy chunk of the money you are paying. These cases are often subcontracted out to substandard investigators with substandard equipment; I have even seen reports where the investigator had only cell phone photos.  If you are doing your due diligence, ask the private detective what type of cameras he supplies to his employees and what kind of surveillance vehicles a private investigator puts into the field.  Another critical question to ask is who will produce the report and what experience that person has.  The most critical part of a New Jersey Cohabitation investigation is the reports that the private detective provides. A private investigator who obtains a plethora of evidence for you, but does not know how to do a top-notch report, will lose your case. In juxtaposition, a private detective who knows how to do a good report will make weak evidence appear strong
  2. When seeking a New Jersey Private Investigator for your cohabitation Investigation, the golden rule should be MAKE SURE THE INVESTIGATOR IS FROM NEW JERSEY. If you have read this article up to this point, I am certain you are doing your due diligence and already know that you should hire a New Jersey Private Detective.

When many people conduct an internet search for a private detective, the search will result in numerous choices of private detectives.  Be smart when choosing from the selections that are offered to you. In the search results, there are ordinarily three or four private investigator firms that ask you to contact them if you need a New Jersey Private Investigator. Some of the firms represent that they have private detectives in specific NJ Cities.  All of the representations made are untruthful or misrepresentations and half-truths. These are national advertising platforms, very much like ride share companies. These “private detective firms” promise to “connect the consumer” to a New Jersey Private Investigator. What essentially happens in this instance is the following:

(1). A call taker in Nebraska answers your call, but he/she doesn’t tell you that she is in Nebraska

(2) As you speak with the call taker in Nebraska you realize he/she knows nothing of New Jersey

(3)  The call taker in Nebraska tells you that a New Jersey Private Detective will call you within three days, the call taker in Nebraska will also tell you the charge is $100.00 per hour

(4)  The call taker in Nebraska will then contact a New Jersey Private Investigator and give the investigator the contact information for the client. The National advertising company will promise to pay the New Jersey Private Detective $35.00 per hour while the advertising company skims $65.00 per hour from the costs

(5) The New Jersey Private Investigator, who is essentially inexperienced, lacking the energy to produce a website and run a business (known in industry as bottom feeders) will contact you to get the details of the investigation. The investigator in many instances will try and explain to the client as to why the investigator will need to conduct the Cohabitation Investigation between the hours of 8am and 5pm.


(6) After you and the investigator agree on the investigative plan, the investigator will be out in field with his cell phone camera sitting directly in front of your ex-spouse’s home in a dark sedan which looks like a police car with all its windows tinted out.

A little bit of the last six items were tongue in cheek, but largely accurate in putting a point across.

I hope this article has been helpful to you in your search for a New Jersey Cohabitation Investigator to establish that your ex-spouse is fraudulently collecting alimony. Call us at 732-837-8444 for a case review or fill out our contact form here.

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