Palimony is an action brought by an unmarried individual for support from their ex-partner after their relationship has terminated. Historically, New Jersey Courts permitted palimony where a person was promised to be supported for life. However, this all changed effective January 18, 2010 when the legislature changed the New Jersey Statute of Frauds to require all agreements for lifetime support to be in writing. Therefore, unless there is a written agreement, palimony claims are barred. The net result of this amendment would substantially limit most claims of palimony, as a majority of these cases do not have a written agreement.
A question arises when there was an oral promise to support the other person before the amendment but the separation and complaint for palimony occurs after the amendment. The Appellate Division, in the case of Maeker v. Ross, answered this question. It ruled that a claim for palimony was barred even though the promise to support occurred before the amendment. It found that the legislature’s intention was to completely bar all palimony claims unless there was a written agreement. It further found that the breach giving rise to the claim arose at the time the parties broke up and not when the agreement was made – as a result, the claim arose after the amendment.
The Supreme Court of New Jersey has granted certification in Maeker, therefore, the Appellate Division could be overruled. Soon there will be clarification on whether or not promises for lifetime support made prior to the amendment are enforceable. For now, however, it appears that they are barred pending a reversal by the Supreme Court.