Even as more people choose to live together without being married, the law in New Jersey still offers special protections to those who are legally wed.
Unlike married couples, unmarried couples have to go almost piecemeal through a series of legal hoops in the event they should break up, oftentimes even before there is any sign of strife. This is especially true with respect to the couples’ property and personal income. Without taking the necessary extra steps, unmarried couples who were in a long term relationship may wind up in a financially bad position after a break up.
Take, for example, the case of palimony. Like its namesake, alimony, palimony is a regular payment one partner to a relationship makes to another partner after the relationship ends. Presumably, this is so that the other partner can maintain his or her standard of living or have the opportunity to figure out other means of support.
Palimony has no special status under New Jersey law but is a creature of contract and contract-like principles. The reasoning was that if one partner promised that he or she would provide ongoing financial support to the other partner in exchange for some consideration, other than sexual relations, then courts could and should enforce that agreement by ordering the one who made the promise to make a reasonable regular payment to the other partner.
While at one point in history palimony claims were fairly common, a relatively recent amendment to New Jersey law made them a bit more difficult to pursue. Now, courts may only order palimony when the person who promised palimony wrote the promise down and signed it. Moreover, both of those involved in the relationship have to have the opportunity to consult with their own respective lawyers.