Socha v. Socha
A court can hold a party in contempt of court, if the party fails to comply with a clear and unequivocal court order. The parties' separation contract provided that the plaintiff husband would pay the defendant wife alimony for 3.5 years and that "plaintiff shall not be responsible for alimony if defendant remarries or cohabitates with another male." The wife moved to find the husband in contempt, because he ceased to pay alimony, and the husband objected that he was no longer required to pay alimony after the wife started to cohabitate with an unrelated male. The court found, by a fair preponderance of the evidence, that the parties were divorced in January 2010 and that in June 2012 the wife moved into a new residence with her boyfriend. The court credited the wife's testimony that her boyfriend does not contribute to household expenses, because he is in school and has children of his own to support. The court found that the term "cohabitate" is ambiguous. Because the parties agreed that alimony would end "if defendant [wife] remarries or cohabitates with another male" this suggested that they intended "cohabitate" to be tantamount to marriage and the cohabitators to be reliant on one another financially. The court denied the husband's motion to modify or to end alimony, because it found that the wife's boyfriend does not contribute financially and the parties intended that alimony would not end unless marriage or cohabitation significantly affected the wife's finances. The court denied the wife's motion to find the husband in contempt of court, because his violation of the separation contract was not willful.