Legal Validity of New Jersey Palimony Agreements
Talented Family Law Attorneys providing counsel in Westfield, Elizabeth, Union, Linden, and the greater Union County Area.
The legislation was moved forward on the New Jersey Legislature, influencing any palimony agreements that may have been enforced before 2010. This law or bill might significantly impact the legal validity of this type of financial agreement that might still require enforcement.
What Is A Palimony Agreement?
A palimony agreement is a legally binding contract used to determine the compensation amount (in cases when it applies) that will be awarded after an unmarried couple (civil union) separates. Palimony agreements were created to protect individuals in a live-in relationship, without being legally married.
Palimony agreements are determined in civil court settings as a contract proceeding, instead than in family court. The two most common factors considered by the court during the palimony ruling process are the length of the relationship and cohabitation. Cohabitation is understood as a living arrangement in which an unmarried couple lives together in a long-term relationship similar to marriage, but lacking all the legally binding contract and documentation.
A Bill That Changed Palimony Agreements
Project legislation or bill S2553 was voted in favor by the New Jersey Senate Judiciary Committee, back in May 2015. This project law would retroactively implement a 2010 law that required all palimony agreements to be documented in writing if deemed eligible to become enforced. The New Jersey Senate floor received the legislation project in late June 2015 and was ratified by lawmakers through a vote of 21-14.
The new legislation project was presented during the New Jersey Supreme Court’s 2014 ruling start-off phase, as part of the appeal of Maeker v. Ross, 430 N.J. Super. 79 (App. Div. 2013). The verdict granted by the state’s highest court resolved that couples with non-written (verbal) palimony agreements could still appear in court to implement those agreements, assuming they existed before January 18, 2010. Additionally, the court reached a unanimous decision that there was no wording included in the 2010 law describing it should be applied retroactively.
When recommending the approval of S2553, Nicholas Scutari, Judiciary Committee Chairman, D-Union, stated it was the lawmaker’s actual goal to have the 2010 legislation act retroactively. The new legislation project basically deems as void or null the Supreme Court’s decision in Maeker v.Russ.
Nevertheless, the bill was still required to pass the Assembly —as notified by the NJ Law Journal— having no similar or identical legislation (companion measure), as well as get signed by Governor Chris Christie, to become an actual law.
Who Is Entitled To The Financial Support?
After properly establishing the validity of a civil union, for a palimony agreement proceeding, the next step is to determine whether or not the claiming individual is entitled to receive the financial support.
Some sort of written agreement needs to be documented in order for an individual participating in a marital-style relationship to be eligible for financial support. The overall goal is to secure an income similar to the one they used to receive while the relationship was still active.
Palimony agreements will be considered as binding, enforceable and legal, only if both parties entering into the agreement have sought separate legal counseling or knowingly resign their right to legal counsel during the process, thus appropriately recording it in writing.
Changes or revisions of existing legislation regarding Civil Unions agreements and financial obligations continue to be researched and communicated to any and all parties participating in similar proceedings.
Contact our Civil Unions Lawyers for a Consultation
If you are needing to enter a new palimony agreement or have any concerns regarding how to convert verbal palimony into a written legally binding document, please contact a Civil Unions attorney to get the best guidance regarding existing laws or bills affecting such financial agreements.
At Edward S. Cooper, Esq, we take pride in successfully representing clients in Westfield, Elizabeth, Union, Linden, and the greater Union County Area. Whether you are currently involved in a divorce process or are considering initiating one, do not let a faulty equitable distribution affect your life,