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Am I Entitled to Palimony?

It’s a funny word, derived from “alimony”. Palimony was coined by a celebrity divorce attorney in 1977.  He represented Michelle Marvin against actor Lee Marvin. (Coincidentally, the attorney’s name is also Marvin: Marvin Mitchelson).

Whereas married people can get alimony from their marriage, “palimony” is support given to a boyfriend/girlfriend after their relationship ends.

In the 1976 Marvin case, Michelle lived with Lee for 5 year (1965-1970), never marrying.  After their relationship ended, she sued him for breaking his promise to her that he would support her for life. While she ultimately LOST in the case (not getting any support), the Court ruled that even though common law marriage was abolished in 1895, the courts will still recognize a non-marital relationship contract.

The takeaway from the Marvin case is that even though you are NOT married, you may be entitled to support (palimony) under a contractual theory, as long as there is a contract.

Contracts can be oral or written, but oral contracts are worthless. (He said, she said). If you are a mistress and you want money, you need to put it in WRITING. Because no marriage exists, the lawsuit is brought in civil court, not family court.

For a list of successful palimony cases, click here.

Recently, an Ontario, Canada Appeals Court ruled a man who never lived with his girlfriend, never had kids, had to pay her $50,000 a month in palimony for 10 years. (their relationship lasted 14 years).

Cohabitation Agreement

Given the possibility that you may have to pay “palimony”  (even though you’re not married), I would strongly suggest that you enter into a cohabitation agreement prior to shacking up.

Even better, I strongly suggest you DON’T live together prior to marriage.

Cohabitation Pros and Cons

If you are considering living together, read Cohabitation Before Marriage: Pros and Cons.

Do Mistresses Have Rights?

Another question that goes hand in hand with “Am I entitled to alimony?”  Are mistresses entitled to financial support from husbands?  

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