Property Settlement Agreements & Co-Habitation in NJ

On 5/3/16 the NJ Supreme Court (Appellate Division Judge Mary Cuff, wrote for the majority ) ruled 4-2 that if a Property Settlement Agreement states that the spouse receiving alimony only when not co-habitating with a lover – and then then the condition occurs – then the plain meaning of the Agreement in enforceable.

Cathleen and David Quinn, voluntarily entered into the property settlement agreement and that both were represented by counsel –after 23 years of marriage. “Marital agreements, including PSAs that clearly and unequivocally provide for the termination of alimony upon cohabitation, are enforceable when the parties enter such agreements knowingly and voluntarily,” Cuff said. Dissenting Justices stated “A property settlement agreement in a divorce action should address the economic consequences of a marriage’s dissolution; it should not contain shackles that deprive a spouse of the right to seek love and companionship.”

David Quinn’s attorney, Bonnie Frost, said she was “thrilled” with the ruling. “The court confirmed that once you make a deal, you’re bound by the deal, as long as it’s fair and equitable,” said Frost, of Denville’s Einhorn, Harris, Ascher, Barbarito & Frost.

Cathleen Quinn’s attorney, Vernon solo John McDermott Jr., said the majority should have adopted Albin’s position. “Justice Albin hit the nail square on the head,” McDermott said. “This was an unjust result that goes against public policy and discriminates against a divorced spouse who has helped her husband succeed. “The result is just wrong,” McDermott said. “She is now going to be destitute.”

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