In most instances people have no idea on what to expect when contacting a New Jersey Private Investigator in order to investigate a potential cohabitation situation that they believe to be occurring with respect to a former spouse they may be paying alimony to. Furthermore, most people have never dealt with a private investigator, or for that matter don’t even know of an investigator to contact nor have any acquaintances who have had the occasion to have retained a New Jersey Private Investigator for any purpose at all. The purpose of this article is to educate persons who might be considering retaining a private investigator on what to expect in terms of how a cohabitation investigation might be conducted into the living arrangements of their ex-spouse to whom they are paying alimony.
Prior to getting into the weeds on how a cohabitation investigation might begin and possibly proceed it is important to look at the elements that a private investigator will need to obtain evidence of in order to reach the threshold of achieving a **prima facie case of cohabitation; this is by far the most important goal, because without the showing of a prima facie case of cohabitation a payor of alimony will never get to the point of obtaining discovery from his/her former spouse.
**Prima Facie- Latin for “At First Look,” or “On It’s Face,” referring to a lawsuit or a criminal prosecution in which the evidence before trial is sufficient to prove the case unless there is substantial contradictory evidence presented at trial.
It is so very important that if you are short on one of the elements of presenting a prima facie cohabitation case you come in strong on others, in 2014, the New Jersey Legislature leveled the playing field making it easier for the payor of alimony to make a case for alimony reduction or elimination
REVISED 2014 STANDARDS FOR A COURT TO DETERMINE CO-HABITATION:
Under the revised 2014 Alimony statute, A New Jersey Family Court may suspend or terminate alimony if the recipient of the alimony cohabits with another person. Pursuant to the revised Statute, cohabitation involves a mutually supportive, intimate personal relationship in which a couple has undertaken duties and privileges that are commonly associated with marriage or civil union but does not necessarily maintain a single common household.
When assessing whether cohabitation is occurring, the court shall consider the following:
(1) Intertwined finances such as joint bank accounts and other joint holdings or liabilities;
(2) Sharing or joint responsibility for living expenses;
(3) Recognition of the relationship in the couple’s social and family circle;