Palimony refers to a form of compensation or support paid between couples that have chosen not to marry each other. It is similar to what alimony is for married couples. In effect, an unmarried person may have a right to seek financial support from his or her former partner after their relationship ends. To sustain a palimony claim, a party generally must prove to the court that the couple was living together over an extended period of time, and that the more financially independent party promised to support the other party.
In most states, palimony is not recognized by statute or court rules. Rather, it is recognized as a kind of relief that may be granted on a case-by-case basis, if the factual circumstances support such a claim. A palimony claim may arise a number of legal theories, such as contract, quasi-contract, quantum meruit, trust, partnership and estoppel. For example, an attorney may argue that an unmarried couple entered into an implied contract with each other by which one party agreed to care for a house and children and to provide other services while the other party promised to support her for the rest of her life. The breach of this so-called implied contract would constitute a basis for claiming palimony against the spouse who promised to pay life-long support.
A court considering a palimony case will look at many facts and factors. For example, did the dependent party give up his or her career in order to move in with the more financially well-off party? How long did the parties live together? What oral or written agreements did they enter into for the mutual support and care of each other?
Most parties do not put their palimony agreements in writing, and therefore, most palimony suits revolve around a disagreement as to who promised what to whom. Some states have now amended their rules to require that support agreements between unmarried partners be in writing in order to be enforceable. To avoid a dispute over palimony, parties should enter into an agreement, either before they begin cohabiting or before they terminate their relationship, that provides the term and amount of support or other consideration that will be paid. In fact, it is wise to consider a formal cohabitation agreement which will address the financial expectations and obligations of each of the parties upon the termination of their relationship or their separation.
Obtaining palimony, avoiding palimony, and promising palimony are all technical procedures that require the assistance of an experienced family lawyer. Mark S. Guralnick has handled palimony cases throughout the country over the course of more than 30 years. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Offices of Mark S. Guralnick.