Do Palimony Agreements Need To Be Written To Be Enforceable?
- January 23, 2014
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The Essex County Superior Court in, Joiner v. Orman, recently ruled on the issue of whether or not palimony agreements need to be in writing to be enforceable. In 2010, an amendment was made to the Statute of Frauds, which from then forth required that palimony agreements be made in writing and with the advice of legal counsel. In Joiner v. Orman, the defendant, Roscoe Orman, best known as the character “Gordon” for decades on the timeless children’s television program, “Sesame Street,” claimed that because his palimony agreement with the plaintiff was not placed in writing and was made outside the independent advice of counsel it was unenforceable. Mr. Orman and Ms. Joiner separated in 2010 and he has since married another woman. Ms. Joiner is now facing eviction from the home that the couple shared in Montclair and she claims that Mr. Orman made her verbal promises throughout their nearly 40 year relationship, a duration of time that she neglected her own professional goals so that Mr. Orman could pursue his career in television,regarding how she would be cared for in the event that their relationship ever ended. The Honorable Ned Rosenberg, J.S.C., ruled that Mr. Orman must continue to honor his palimony obligations even though the unmarried couple did not memorialize their agreement. Judge Rosenberg noted that Ms. Joiner “held up her end of the bargain . . . and the defendant does not even deny [the] agreement and even acknowledged the obligation by deeds and words.” Mr. Orman’s attorneys have stated that they intend to appeal Judge Rosenberg’s decision because it contradicts the 2010 amendment to the state law requiring that palimony agreements be placed in writing and that the parties have independent advice of counsel when doing so. It is believed that Judge Rosenberg’s ruling is the first instance of a state judge recognizing such an exception to the 2010 amendment. Unlike married couples, unmarried couples, even those who co-habitate on a long-term basis, do not have any right to support or obligation to make payment under the laws of NJ. Palimony agreements are an important way to protect your partner, your security and your assets in the event that a non-marital relationship dissolves or one member of the couple becomes incapacitated and that person’s family chooses to discontinue support for the other against the wishes of the incapacitated person. Due to the potentially complex nature of such agreements, it is critical that you seek out the advice of an experienced attorney in drafting and reviewing this agreement which will protect your assets and rights for years to come. If you are contemplating moving in with your significant other, or have been living with them for years without marrying, you should act to protect your future by entering into a palimony agreement with them. For more information about palimony agreements, prenuptial agreements, divorce, alimony, or other family law matters in New Jersey visit HeatherDarlingLawyer.com. This blog is for informational purposes and in no way intended to replace the advice of an attorney.