Unmarried Couples, Palimony, and Cohabitation Agreements

Palimony is very similar concept to that of alimony in that it is designed to protect individuals who have traditionally been financially dependent on their partner in the case that their relationship ends. The primary difference between the two is that alimony is awarded (when applicable) in situations where a married couple divorces, while palimony is something that only applies to unmarried couples who are involved in a marital-style relationship, often legally referred to as “cohabitation”.

In this article, we will discuss how and when the concept of palimony was originally created, how laws regarding palimony have changed, and what those changes mean in the case that you are involved in a marital-style relationship in which there is/has been the promise of financial support.

The History of Palimony, Union Palimony Lawyer

The concept of palimony was first created in the somewhat infamous 1970 case involving actor Lee Marvin and his long-term girlfriend Michelle Triola. In this case, as argued by Triola’s attorney, even though the couple was legally unmarried, they were essentially involved in a marital-type relationship for 6 years. The original suit brought by Triola and her attorney claimed that not only was Triola entitled to half of everything that Marvin had earned during this 6 year period, due to the fact that Triola gave up her career to act as Marvin’s “cook, companion, and confidante”, she was also entitled to restitution for giving up this earning potential in exchange for the promise of mutual support. Essentially, Triola’s attorney was arguing that their had been an oral and implicit agreement between the two to share assets and finances.

The Trial Court initially rejected Triola’s claim, mostly on the basis that “common law marriage” had been abolished in California since 1895 and that Triola’s claim was extremely similar to common-law concepts. However, upon appeal, the California Supreme Court found that only the lack of a marriage license separated Marvin and Triola’s relationship from other married couple’s relationships, officially endorsing the concept of palimony.

Union County, NJ Palimony Laws and Agreements for Unmarried Couples

So while the California Supreme Court certainly had good intentions with their decision, seeking to protect the financial rights of individuals who are involved in marital-type relationships, since that time palimony is something that has brought a massive amount of frivolous and baseless claims to the courts, causing backlogs in the court system and spurning countless legal disputes which have little-to-no basis.

For this reason, New Jersey amended its Palimony law in 2010, requiring palimony agreements to be in writing, rather than simply requiring proof of an oral agreement or implied agreement. This means that in order for an individual involved in a marital-style relationship to obtain the financial support they have become accustomed to in the event that their relationship ends, they need to have some kind of agreement in writing.

These agreements can be Palimony agreements (generally addressing the issue of financial support), or can be in the form of a Cohabitation Agreement. Cohabitation agreements are becoming much more popular due to the fact that these kinds of agreements not only address the issue of financial support, but many times can also address issues such as property division or even financial support for children from previous marriages.

In order for Palimony agreements and Cohabitation agreements to be considered legal, binding, and enforceable, both parties entering into the agreement must retain separate legal counsel, or explicitly waive their right to legal counsel during this process in writing.

Contact a Union County Cohabitation Agreement and Palimony Lawyer Today

Of course, if you are entering into a cohabitation agreement or palimony agreement, or need to validate or contest an existing cohabitation agreement or palimony agreement, one of the most important things you can do is to retain the counsel of an experienced Union County cohabitation agreement lawyer. An experienced attorney will be able to help you ensure whatever agreement you are signing is fair to you and legally binding, help you demonstrate to the courts that whatever agreement you have already signed was entered into legally, or conversely that the agreement you signed was inaccurate, unfair, or that you were coerced into signing it, voiding the terms of the agreement.

At The Law Office of Edward Cooper, we have extensive experience helping clients to draft, modify, validate, and contest marital agreements such as prenuptial agreements and cohabitation agreements in towns across New Jersey and Union County, including Elizabeth, Westfield, Scotch Plains, Linden, Union, and Plainfield.

If you are unmarried but involved in a marital-style relationship, and would like to protect and define the legal rights and obligations of yourself individually as well as those same rights and obligations as a couple, Attorney Edward Cooper is ready to provide you with the knowledgeable, effective, and attentive legal service that you need and deserve when it comes to such critical financial matters.

To speak with Edward Cooper and our legal team today in a free and confidential consultation regarding any kind of marital agreement and its creation, validation, or the enforcement of its terms, please contact us online, or through our Linden, NJ office at (908) 481-4625.