Articles Posted in ATTORNEY FEES

When an alimony recipient begins living with a new partner, he or she must demonstrate that a continuing financial need exists in order to continue receiving spousal support. In an unpublished opinion, a couple divorced after about 14 years of marriage. Their June 2005 judgment of divorce incorporated a matrimonial settlement agreement (“MSA”) that required the husband to pay his former wife limited-duration (a/k/a “term”) alimony until August 2013. The MSA also stated the alimony award would be subject to modification or termination if the former wife began cohabiting with a new partner.

In 2012, the former husband filed a motion to terminate alimony payments after learning his former wife’s boyfriend began residing with her. The family court denied the man’s motion because he failed to establish that his former wife received a financial benefit from her new living arrangement. A few months later, the former wife moved into a home that was owned by her boyfriend. In April 2013, the former husband filed another motion to terminate his alimony obligations as of the date their cohabitation began or the date of his motion.

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A husband’s attempt to bring an end to his alimony payments did yield a reduced obligation, but not the complete cessation he sought. It also came at a price after the Appellate Division upheld not only the continuation of alimony but also a trial court award requiring the husband to pay $15,000 of the wife’s attorneys’ fees that she spent defending against his efforts to terminate alimony.

When Robert Clauss married his wife Linda in 1988, she was a ballet dancer who had no college education. When the couple divorced two decades later, the wife was unemployed with no income. The couple reached an agreement on spousal support that called for imputing an income of $30,000 per year to the wife. However, by 2012, the wife had earned her license as a registered nurse and was making $66,000 per year.

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