Palimony Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Palimony, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Palimony?

It is a slang term used by the court implying the financial support offered by one partner to the other in the cases of unmarried couples who had rather lived in together.It is an alternative to alimony. The court considers the sacrifice and support that was given by a partner during their live in relationship and considers it as an implied contract on the basis of which the palimony is decided.

History and Meaning of Palimony

Palimony is a portmanteau of the words "pal" and "alimony". In the 1970s, Marvin vs. Marvin was a highly publicized case in which a woman sued her former live-in partner – actor Lee Marvin – for support after their breakup. The court recognized her right to receive financial support, despite not being married, and set a precedent for similar cases in the future. Since then, palimony has been used to refer to financial support paid to an ex-partner in unmarried relationships.

To obtain palimony, a claimant has to prove the existence of an implied contract or agreement between themselves and their partner. The contract could be in the form of an oral agreement or even just mutual understandings. The person claiming palimony must show that they had a reasonable expectation of receiving financial support after the relationship ended. The court will take into account things such as the length of the relationship, the sacrifices made by each partner, and the contributions each made to the household.

Examples of Palimony

  1. Jane and John have been living together for ten years. During that time, Jane quit her job to care for John's elderly parents. When they break up, Jane may be entitled to palimony because she sacrificed her career to care for John's family.

  2. Cindy and Mike have been living together for six months. When they break up, Cindy is not entitled to palimony because their relationship was not long enough.

  3. Alex and Sam have been living together for five years. They agreed that Alex would be the primary breadwinner while Sam focused on starting a business. When they break up, Sam may be entitled to palimony because they had a clear agreement that Sam would be financially supported while building their business.

Legal Terms Similar to Palimony

  1. Alimony: Alimony is a court-ordered payment of financial support made from one ex-spouse to the other after a divorce.

  2. Cohabitation Agreement: A legal agreement between unmarried couples to outline each partner's rights and obligations during cohabitation and after a breakup.

  3. Common-Law Marriage: A marriage that is recognized by the law despite not having a formal ceremony and marriage license. In some states, a couple that has been living together for a certain period of time is legally considered married.