An Update to Palimony Law and Maeker v. Ross

As discussed previously, palimony is an action brought by an unmarried individual for life-time support promised by their ex-partner after their relationship has terminated. On January 18, 2010, the law regarding palimony changed and required all agreements for palimony to be in writing. If the agreement was not in writing, a claim for palimony could not be enforced.

This created an interesting question for those who were orally promised life-time support before the law changed on January 18, 2010, but did not file a claim for palimony until after the amendment. In the case of Maeker v. Ross, this question was addressed. The Appellate Division first held that all claims for palimony needed to be in writing, even if the promise occurred before the amendment to the law. The case was then reviewed by the New Jersey Supreme Court. The NJ Supreme Court reversed the Appellate Division holding that a claim for palimony can be made if the oral promise was made prior to the January 18, 2010 amendment. It thus determined that the requirement that the palimony agreement must be in writing does not apply to promises made before the statutory amendment.

The law is now essentially this: if you were orally promised life-time support before January 18, 2010, then you can make a claim for palimony. If you were promised life-time support on January 18, 2010 or later, that promise must be reduced to a writing or you do not have a claim for palimony.

In light of the January 18, 2010 amendment and the Supreme Court holding in Maeker v. Ross, it is important that you discuss your potential palimony case with an attorney today.