Blog

Palimony – Alimony for the Unmarried

New Jersey does not have common law marriages.  However, New Jersey allows unmarried parties to assert a claim for palimony.

Often times the parties lived together but never married but have held themselves out as or operated like a married couple.  The expectation of continued support come from promises made during this time. Recently the Court has held that cohabitation is not a requirement to maintain a successful a palimony claim.

Promises Made/Promises Kept?

When unmarried people break up and then one seeks support from the other, it is the Court’s primary focus to determine if there was, in fact, a promise by one to the other of continued support. The Court will focus on contract principles. In doing so, the Court will look to see if the promise was a verbal promise or a written promise. Was it an express promise or was it an implied promise? Importantly, palimony agreements must now be in writing due to an amendment to the statute governing palimony.  These are questions of fact that need to be determined by the Court. The next inquiry is to determine if the promise is enforceable. Was the promise of continues support based upon the exchange of something else? The Court needs to see what type of consideration was made to support the promise.

If the facts and circumstances prove that there was a promise for support and the promise is enforceable, the Court may determine that a contract was in fact made between the parties and the terms of the contract include a continuation support post breakup.

Damages

There may be a breach of the contract, if there is a contract, and the relationship ends. The party who has breached the contract may have to pay damages to the non-breaching party.  Upon the showing of a contract for support and a breach of the contract, a majority of cases in New Jersey provide that damages to the non-breaching party are paid via a lump-sum payment by the breaching party whereby a yearly annual support amount is determined and then multiplied by the breaching party’s life expectancy and then reduced to a present value.

While we do not recognize common law marriage, there certainly may be financial exposure to parties who enter into a legitimate contract for support, and are in a committed relationship but have never married.

Please contact me at jlawrence@lawlawfirm.com if you have questions about this post or any other family law matter.

Subscribe to Our Blog

SHARE THIS POST:

Related Posts

Blog
Extreme Higher Earning Parent – No Increase in Support

  Child Support with an Extreme Higher Earning Parent – In a recent New Jersey appellate division case of Ianniello v. Pizzo, the appellate division upheld the trial court’s denial of the custodial parent’s request to increase child support.  The non-custodial parent was paying $10,000 per month.  The custodial parent sought a $65,000 per month…

Read More
Blog
A Final Restraining Order Does Not Have to be Forever

  In a recent post, I wrote about the best ways to defend against a Final Restraining Order (FRO). However, unfortunately, it is not always possible to successfully defend against the entry of an FRO.  Therefore, defendants need to know the serious consequences associated with an FRO.  They also need to understand that “final” does…

Read More
Blog
Restraining Order Violations are Serious Crimes

  A restraining order is a powerful tool to protect victims of domestic violence.  The purpose of a restraining order is to avoid future communication or contact between two people.  This holds true for as long as the order remains active. A person who makes contact will be held in contempt of the restraining order. …

Read More
Blog
Domestic Violence – Defending Final Restraining Orders

  Domestic violence is a pervasive problem throughout the United States. The State of New Jersey is no exception to this ongoing dilemma. Accordingly, the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (“the Act”) has been enacted and is intended to act as a shield for domestic violence victims. Unfortunately, there are times where matrimonial litigants instead…

Read More
Blog
A Penalty Provision in the Marital Settlement Agreement

  In New Jersey divorces, marital settlement agreements include language that addresses the ramifications if either person breaches any provision of the agreement.  Often, the agreement includes a penalty provision that requires breaching party to pay the other’s counsel fees if the matter requires court intervention.  More often than not, courts have largely ignored such…

Read More
Blog
Legislative Impact on Family Law – A Sneak Peek

I knew I wanted to be a lawyer for as long as I can remember. My father is a retired juvenile detective from New Jersey.  I developed my love for the law through him. Law school proved challenging, requiring round-the-clock studying, but this diligence allowed me to graduate second in my class. Throughout law school and…

Read More
Call Now ButtonCall Us