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Historically, unmarried couples don't have the same rights and protections given to legally married couples. However, many state courts have begun to recognize an unmarried persons' right to financial support from a former partner once their relationship is terminated. Palimony , similar to alimony or spousal support, is a slang term, which refers to the financial support or property rights one partner may ask from the other at the end of their non-marital cohabitating relationship .

The main issue with palimony is whether or not there was some sort of agreement during the course of the non-marital relationship in which one partner stated they would financially support the other in exchange for household or domestic duties (other than sexual pleasure). In a palimony lawsuit, the plaintiff must prove that such an agreement was expressed or implied during the course of the relationship.

Typically palimony decisions are determined on a number of factors such as if one partner made a promise of lifetime support to the other, if the couple has been cohabitating for a period longer than ten years, or if the couple has lived in a marriage setting. In many states that recognize palimony rights, including California where the term was coined, the courts must legally enforce most agreements made by unmarried cohabitating couples regarding their finances and property.

The agreements recognized by state courts fall under three categories, which include:

  • Implied Agreements – Unspoken agreements or “understandings” between two people that is implied through their behavior and conduct. In a palimony lawsuit, a jury may decide that an unmarried couple had an understanding that one partner would support the other, even after the relationship was terminated, based on past conduct of financial support.
  • Oral Agreements – These agreements are difficult to prove since they are based on spoken words. Memory loss and deceit on the part of one partner may invalidate oral agreements.
  • Written Agreements – Contracts written prior to or during the relationship are the preferred method of agreement since they provide clear proof of the intentions and expectations that existed between the partners. Furthermore, written agreements clarify the terms of the relationship in court and may also help avoid palimony lawsuits.

If you wish to file a palimony claim, you should be able to provide evidence showing an implied agreement or written contract for promise of lifetime financial support. In addition, you should be able to prove that you and your partner resided together for a long period of time as well as describe how your relationship was similar to that of a marriage. To learn more about palimony rights, however, it is important to speak with a knowledgeable attorney.

Palimony rights are not recognized in every state and the provisions may differ depending on where you reside. Because there may be a lot at stake, it is wise to seek the help of an experienced attorney who can help protect your legal rights and maximize your interests. Please contact us today to speak with a qualified attorney, free of charge.

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