What is Palimony?

March 19, 2017

Columns

What is Palimony?

If you read gossip columns, you may have come across the term “palimony” in the past and wondered what, exactly, it is. Palimony is a portmanteau derived from the words “pal” and “alimony,” and describes a settlement in which one former partner pays money to the other. It is not an actual legal term, but is rather a sort of joke meant to describe a rather uncommon legal agreement.

If you’re still not understanding it, imagine this: you have been in a long-term relationship with a woman, Karen, whom you live with, but are not married to. If you had made promises to support her over the years, she may be able to sue you in court for a support settlement. The more technical term for palimony is a “non-marital relationship contract,” although that term lacks something of the catchiness of “palimony.” However, this is a more legally descriptive term, as it describes the relationship as being not a marriage, but with some of the agreements that serve as the underpinnings for marriage: love, support, etc.

The problem with securing a palimony settlement is that there is a lack of an actual contract. The person suing for palimony needs to be able to prove that there was some promise for financial support, which can be difficult to do. In an actual marriage, financial support is part of the contract, which makes alimony much easier to claim.

The neologism “palimony” was actually coined in regards to a court case involving Michelle Triola Marvin’s case against Hollywood star Lee Marvin, whom she claimed had made promises to support her for the rest of her life. However, she encountered the problem most associated with palimony cases now, namely that it was virtually impossible to prove such promises were made. The California Supreme Court ruled that the standard common law marriage rules applied in the case, namely that Michelle Triola Marvin was entitled only to the property she had brought into the relationship.

Because of the nature of palimony, it is frequently employed in cases of long-term gay relationships. Liberace was sued by his former partner (a relationship Liberace himself denied) in such a case, as was fellow pianist Van Cliburn. Martina Navratilova was also the defendant in a palimony case. Comedian Bill Maher recently had such a case brought against him, which was dismissed.

For more information about divorce and alimony payments, visit westpalmbeach-divorcelawyer.com.

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