Skip to main content

What is Palimony?

Palimony laws apply to couples living together who are not married. They come into effect when the relationship comes to an end. Depending on the circumstances and whether or not an agreement was established, one party may be entitled to a portion of the other person’s property.

The cases, for the most part, are handled in state civil courts, although some have gone to their state Supreme Court.

Palimony precedent

A well-known case back in 1977 was Marvin v. Marvin. A woman sued a well-known actor at the time, Lee Marvin. She claimed that he promised to take care of her financially for life. The couple never married and the Supreme Court decided she could not prove the existence of an oral agreement; she was not entitled to any of Mr. Marvin’s property.

Winning a palimony case

In order to win a palimony case, usually the plaintiff must prove there is a contract stating that they will be cared for financially in existence. If they can prove that they paid for their partner's education or stayed home to raise their children, they may be awarded palimony. The contract may be written and signed by both parties, or an oral agreement or an implied contract that requires an individual to prove they sacrificed their career to be with their partner.

Despite all the couples now choosing to live together without marriage, they do not have the same rights and protections given to married couples. However, under certain conditions, the courts will recognize that an unmarried person may have a right to get financial support from a former partner after the relationship ends.

If you have any questions regarding palimony, contact an experienced Family Law attorney who is knowledgeable about palimony laws.

Rate this guide


Avvo divorce email series

Sign up to receive a 10-part series of useful information and legal advice about the divorce process.

Recommended articles about Divorce

Can’t find what you’re looking for?


Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer