Michelle Triola Marvin filed a lawsuit seeking financial compensation that would be similar to spousal support. She argued that they had an oral agreement for financial support and that she was entitled to support and property division because she had given up her career to care for Mr. Marvin and their home. Her attorney argued that they were essentially married.
The California Supreme Court ruled that Ms. Triola could proceed with her lawsuit. She was not awarded any money for property division and only a small amount to assist her while she found employment. The Court of Appeals later overturned that award, but the concept of palimony and the right to sue had been established.
Since that time, many states have adopted laws or have case law acknowledging palimony as spousal support for unmarried couples who separate. New Jersey recognizes palimony. However, a line is drawn as of January 18, 2010 that dictates the requirements for a person to receive palimony.
Contact us today at our law firm or call (732) 747-1882 to schedule a free case evaluation with The Law Office of Jennifer J. McCaskill to discuss the specifics of your situation, we will be happy to help.
New Jersey Palimony Agreements Originating Before January 18, 2010
If a couple began a relationship before January 18, 2010, and had an agreement regarding financial support, New Jersey courts determined whether the agreement was valid by applying general contract law.
The palimony agreement could be written or oral. Oral agreements could be implied or expressed. The determining factor was whether the agreement met general contract principles.
Generally, to enforce a palimony agreement that originated before January 18, 2010, the party would need to prove:
- The parties cohabited in a marriage-style relationship;
- During the time the parties lived together, there was a promise of lifetime support; and,
- The promise of lifetime support was made in exchange for valid consideration.
However, New Jersey amended the state’s statute of frauds to include palimony. The amendment added two elements that all palimony agreements must include after January 18, 2010 to be valid.
Requirements for New Jersey Palimony Agreements Entered Into After January 18, 2010
The state codified the requirements for palimony agreements in New Jersey Statutes Annotated (NJSA) Section 25:1-5(h).
For a palimony agreement to be valid, under the current law, the party must prove:
- The couple was not married;
- The parties lived together in a marriage-style relationship;
- The parties had an agreement for financial support (palimony);
- The agreement was in writing and signed by both parties; and,
- The parties had separate lawyers to advise them about their rights and the agreement before signing it.
If you cannot prove the above elements for a palimony agreement after January 18, 2010, you are not eligible for palimony payments.
The NJ Palimony Law Is Not Retroactive
The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that the new palimony law (requiring agreements to be in writing and the parties to have separate legal counsel) is not retroactive. Therefore, if you have an oral agreement with your partner that originated before January 10, 2018, you might be eligible for palimony in New Jersey.
Are Cohabitation Agreements the Same as Palimony Agreements in New Jersey?
A palimony agreement typically deals with financial support if the parties separate. However, some parties include terms for property division in the agreement.
A cohabitation agreement is different. It is a non-marital agreement that can give parties the same rights that a married couple would enjoy during their marriage and a divorce.
A cohabitation agreement can include provisions for the following:
- Financial support
- Powers of attorney
- Health insurance
- Property division
- Interest in retirement accounts
- Who remains in the residence after separation
- How to treat property acquired during the relationship (i.e., subject to equitable distribution or separate property)
- Medical decisions
The parties can include their intentions regarding these matters but should take further steps to ensure the agreement is enforceable. For example, the parties should draft powers of attorney, health care directives, and Wills that reflect the terms of the cohabitation agreement.
New Jersey does not recognize common law marriage. Therefore, a couple might want to consider a cohabitation agreement instead of a simple palimony agreement. The cohabitation agreement covers more than financial support if the couple separates.
As with a palimony agreement, the cohabitation agreement must be in writing and signed voluntarily by both parties. The parties should have separate legal counsel to protect their interests.
Contact Our Monmouth County Palimony Lawyers for Help
Palimony claims can be challenging to prove, especially if the agreement is oral and occurred prior to 2010. If you separated from your partner, contact our law firm to discuss your rights during a free consultation with an experienced Monmouth County palimony attorney.