In the recent case of Cathleen Quinn v. David J. Quinn, the Husband and Wife signed a Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA) that stated, in part, alimony would end with “Wife’s cohabitation.”  Wife lived with a man for over two years at which point her ex-husband filed to terminate alimony.   The lower Court only suspended alimony for the time period of the cohabitation as the Wife no longer cohabitated at the time of trial.  It did this because she was “entirely dependent on her alimony for her support.”  At the time of the divorce, the Husband earned almost ten times as much as the Wife.

On May 3, 2016, the NJ Supreme Court reversed this decision. It held that “An agreement to terminate alimony upon cohabitation, entered by fully informed parties, represented by independent counsel, and without any evidence of overreaching, fraud, or coercion, is enforceable.”  The majority of the Justices felt that with the clear language in the MSA calling for termination, it had to be enforced.

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOU: before you sign an MSA always make sure that you discuss all future possible circumstances with your attorney so that you know what your obligations/rights are and how they can change.  After the divorce, know that the Courts heavily favor following the MSA to the letter so if you need to enforce one of its clauses, you have a good chance of success upon filing a motion.