An Experienced Palimony Attorney Can Help You through a Difficult Separation
Palimony awards can ease the financial complexities involved when an unmarried couple ends a long-term relationship. An attorney at the firm can help you navigate the financial aspects of ending a long-term relationship.
What is Palimony?
Palimony is not alimony, and alimony is not palimony. Palimony is a contractual right that is codified in statute providing an unmarried individual in a long-term relationship with a lump sum payment, or some other form of compensation, at the conclusion of the relationship. Alimony is an equitable right that is codified in statute providing a married individual with payments at the conclusion of the relationship.
The term “palimony” was coined as a portmanteau of “pal” and “alimony,” and originates from the 1976 California case of Marvin v. Marvin. In that case, Michelle Triola Marvin, a longtime partner of actor Lee Marvin, claimed that she was entitled to half of the income and property he had acquired during their relationship because her support as a homemaker allowed him to pursue his career. While Ms. Marvin was ultimately unsuccessful, palimony was created.
Palimony is now legally recognized in more than twenty states, including New Jersey. However, unlike other states, New Jersey recognizes two distinct types of palimony cases, with a line being drawn in the sand on January 18, 2010.
What are the two types of Palimony?
Prior to January 18, 2010, palimony was not codified in statute, but rather courts applied general contract principles to determine whether an oral or written palimony agreement for lifetime support existed. If an oral or written palimony agreement for lifetime support can be proven, the recipient of palimony will be entitled to a one-time lump sum payment in an amount predicated upon the present value of the reasonable future support promise, to be computed based on life expectancy.
In order to prove that an oral or written palimony agreement for lifetime support existed prior to January 18, 2010, the individual seeking palimony must present competent evidence showing: (1) that the parties cohabited; (2) in a marriage-type relationship; (3) that, during this period of cohabitation, there was a promise of life-time support; and (4) that this promise was made in exchange for valid consideration. However, the lack of cohabitation will not end the analysis.
On January 18, 2010, palimony was codified in statute and subjected to two new requirements: (1) the palimony agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties; and (2) both parties must have obtained independent legal advice prior to signing the palimony agreement. If a written palimony agreement that complies with the statute can be proven, the recipient of palimony will be entitled to the compensation set forth in the written palimony agreement.
In 2014, our firm's own expert attorney, Angelo Sarno, successfully argued before the New Jersey Supreme Court in Maeker v. Ross that the two new requirements should not be applied retroactively to oral or written palimony agreements that existed prior to January 18, 2010. In other words, New Jersey citizens who entered into an oral or written palimony agreement before January 18, 2010, can still be entitled to palimony.
For palimony agreements created after January 18, 2010, the two new requirements continue to apply.
In 2021, Mr. Sarno argued before the New Jersey Supreme Court in Moynihan v. Lynch that the requirement of independent legal advice should be vacated. A decision from the New Jersey Supreme Court remains pending. Thus, at this time, for palimony agreements created after January 18, 2010, the two new requirements continue to apply. We will update our website after the issuance of the decision from the New Jersey Supreme Court.
Palimony and Child Support
Just like palimony is not alimony, palimony is not child support, nor is palimony intended to replace child support.
Reach Out Today
The attorneys at Snyder Sarno D'Aniello Maceri & da Costa LLC are dedicated to ensuring that every client receives the financial support they need after a complicated separation. Contact our firm today and set up a consultation to discuss your case and learn how you can receive the financial support you deserve. For more information on Alimony and Palimony, please visit our blog and articles on our website.
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