Palimony: Definition & Agreement


Palimony Agreement

Palimony Agreement

Palimony agreement are typically established through written contracts or implied agreements based on the contributions and expectations of the partners during their relationship.

It is not always the case that two single people living together have a right to their housemates’ possessions. If there is a disagreement and one of the cohabiting people decides to move out, there may be more arguments if someone forcibly claims something that another person properly owns. Even though there isn’t a formal legal judgment regarding compensation for unmarried homes that break up, the idea of palimony (and palimony agreements) can be used to safeguard property ownership and individual rights when household splits do happen.

Learn about palimony with the help of this blog post. Recognize what palimony is, what it means, and how a palimony agreement operates.

What is Palimony?

Palimony is a legal concept that refers to financial support or division of property between unmarried partners after the termination of their relationship, similar to the way alimony functions for married couples.

Palimony agreements are legally enforceable physical contracts that outline what compensation (such as ownership of property or monetary compensation), if any, is entitled to an individual. The term “palimony” is not legal, but it can be used to describe these agreements. Palimony is not a given for single cohabitants who have made the decision to stop living together. A palimony agreement, on the other hand, can guarantee that each dividing party receives what is lawfully theirs. Alimony, or money given to a former spouse after a divorce, is not the same as palimony.

See also  North Carolina Alimony Statute

What is Palimony Agreement?

A palimony agreement is a contractual arrangement between unmarried partners that outlines financial support or property division in the event of the relationship ending. These agreements can cover various aspects such as living expenses, property ownership, and financial support obligations.

Suppose two single people decide to end their cohabitation and they don’t have a palimony agreement. Regardless of guilt or circumstance, each household member may only be entitled to claim (and retrieve) what they brought into the living arrangement. Certain legal ownership of an item can become more hazy for couples who have jointly filed claims or split ownership of a belonging.


The concept of palimony emerged in the 1970s through legal cases involving unmarried couples, most notably the landmark case of Marvin v. Marvin in California in 1976. In this case, Michelle Marvin sued actor Lee Marvin for financial support after their long-term relationship ended. The court ruled in her favor, recognizing implied contracts between unmarried partners regarding financial support and property rights. This case set a precedent for palimony agreements and established the legal framework for enforcing financial obligations between unmarried couples. Since then, palimony has been recognized in various jurisdictions, although the laws and requirements vary by location.

States that Recognize Palimony

While alimony is granted in all states, palimony is not recognized in twenty-one states in addition to the District of Colombia. Specific considerations for palimony cases vary by state as well. The states which recognize palimony as a form of legal recourse include Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

See also  An Overview of Alimony and Spousal Support Guidelines in Michigan

Who is Eligible for a Palimony?

The deciding court will need to take into account several factors before granting palimony (or making someone eligible for it) to a former cohabiting partner. The goal of cohabitation, each cohabitant’s financial commitment, the length of the relationship, the presence of a formal palimony agreement (if applicable), and the difference in income between each member of the living arrangement are some of the most common palimony considerations, though they vary by state.

Factors to be Considered in Palimony

Several factors are typically considered when determining palimony obligations or enforcing palimony agreements. These factors may include:

1. Duration of the relationship

The length of time the couple lived together or was in a committed relationship may influence the extent of financial obligations.

2. Contributions to the relationship

Contributions can be financial (such as income and assets) or non-financial (such as homemaking, childcare, or career sacrifices) and are considered when assessing each partner’s entitlement to palimony.

3. Economic disparity

Disparities in earning capacity or financial resources between the partners may affect the amount of palimony awarded to ensure fairness.

4. Standard of living

The lifestyle maintained during the relationship may be considered when determining the level of financial support needed post-separation.

5. Express agreements

Written or verbal agreements made between the partners regarding financial support or property division can be influential in determining palimony obligations.

6. Implied agreements

Courts may recognize implied agreements based on the conduct and expectations of the partners during the relationship, even in the absence of explicit agreements.

See also  Factors Influencing Alimony Determinations In North Carolina

7. Child custody and support

If the couple has children together, considerations related to custody, visitation, and child support may also factor into palimony determinations.

These factors are evaluated within the legal framework of each jurisdiction, and the specific criteria and weight given to each factor may vary accordingly.

Frequently Asked Questions About Palimony

1. What is palimony?

Palimony is financial support or property division between unmarried partners after the termination of their relationship, akin to alimony for married couples.

2. How is palimony different from alimony?

Palimony is for unmarried partners, while alimony is for spouses who were legally married and subsequently divorced.

3. Is palimony legally enforceable?

It depends on the jurisdiction and the specific circumstances of the relationship. In some places, palimony agreements are legally recognized and enforceable if certain criteria are met.

4. What factors are considered in determining palimony?

Factors may include the duration of the relationship, contributions made by each partner, economic disparities, the standard of living maintained during the relationship, any express or implied agreements, and the presence of children.

5. Do palimony agreements need to be in writing?

While written agreements are typically preferred for clarity and enforceability, palimony agreements can sometimes be implied based on the conduct and expectations of the partners during the relationship.

6. Can palimony be modified or terminated?

Like alimony, palimony arrangements may be subject to modification or termination under certain circumstances, such as changes in financial circumstances or the fulfillment of specified conditions.

7. Is palimony taxable?

Palimony payments may or may not be taxable, depending on the laws of the jurisdiction and the specific nature of the payments. It’s important to consult with a legal or tax professional for guidance on this matter.

8. What should I do if I have questions about palimony in my situation?

If you have questions or concerns about palimony in your specific circumstances, it’s advisable to consult with a qualified family law attorney who can provide personalized legal advice based on your situation and the laws applicable in your jurisdiction.

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