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
Criminal Charges: Interference with Custody

In New Jersey, people who interfere with custody can face criminal charges.  While rare, however, it can be effective when someone defies a court Order enforcing custody and parenting time. In a recent New Jersey case (State v. Thomas), a mother was convicted of third-degree interference with custody.  She took her daughter to a make-up…

Read More
Blog
Divorce for Police Officers in New Jersey

Growing up as the daughter of a police officer in New Jersey, and now as a divorce lawyer, I have always admired and respected the men and women in blue.  Likewise, I saw the pride my father had every day when wearing his uniform, the respect he received from the public and his satisfaction in…

Read More
Blog
Prenuptial Agreements, What’s the Deal?

Planning your wedding can be a lot of fun. There is much to do for the big day — the perfect dress, the matching tuxedo, the ceremony, the reception, the honeymoon and the million other details in between. Let me suggest adding another item to that seemingly never-ending “to-do” list – consider entering into a…

Read More
Blog
Does a Child’s Income Impact Child Support?

In a New Jersey divorce, parents have an obligation to support unemancipated children as they are not self-sufficient. Child support is based on ten statutory factors.  But the primary factor in determining child support is the parents’ respective incomes.  In some cases, however, a child may have income or assets of their own. When establishing…

Read More
Blog
A Modern Family – Third Parties Raising Children

The definitions of  “parenthood” and “family” continue to evolve. Today, it is not uncommon for a child to have a parent-child relationship with someone other than the biological parents. As the needs of children change, and as society changes, so does the law surrounding custody and parenting time. Therefore, a third party who lives in…

Read More
Blog
Collaborative Divorce in New Jersey, say what?

Generally speaking, 97% – 98% of all divorce cases settle. Judges often tell divorcing parties that it is not a matter of “if” a case will settle, it is a matter of “when”.  Some cases settle in days, some weeks and others may linger for years. There are many factors that affect the time in…

Read More
Call Us