What is Palimony?
Palimony comes from the words pal and alimony. It was a term coined in the 70′s by the lawyer for Michelle Marvin when she filed suit against actor Lee Marvin. Though not a legal term, it is used in popular speech to refer to a divorce-like settlement between two unmarried parties who have been living together.
What is Marvin vs. Marvin?
In 1977, Michelle Triola Marvin (who was not married, but used that last name) filed suit against Lee Marvin for her share of their combined assets when their relationship ended. The case was the first of its kind and garnered a huge amount of media attention. Triola was awarded a lump sum of money but no where near the split of assets she was suing for. A few years later, the ruling was overturned by the appeals court saying that Triola could not show proof of a contract between herself and Marvin, so she was owed nothing.
How Are Palimony Cases Settled?
Since the parties are not married in a palimony case, the case must go to civil not family court as it would in a divorce. As a civil matter, one party must prove that there was a contract of some kind (not necessarily a written contract) that entitled them to a share of the other parties assets after a break-up.
Though laws differ from state-to-state, there are a couple of other key factors that the court will taken into consideration including the length of the relationship, sacrifices made by one partner to support the other, ability to earn an income and of course, any written financial agreements.
How Do I Protect Myself from a Palimony Case?
The best way to protect yourself is to have a lawyer draw up a legal contract between yourself and your domestic partner outlining exactly what will happen to the assets should you split. During the partnership be sure that all jointly owned property carries both of your names. This is a good idea anyway to assure the other partner will inherit the property if the other passes away during the relationship.