What is Palimony – Why is It Important to Couples Who Live Together?

Pierre Domercq Spousal Support

“Palimony” is a term that was made famous in a case involving the Actor Lee Marvin (The Dirty Dozen and many other films). Mr. Marvin lived with Michele Triola for several years. When they finally separated Ms. Triola sued Marvin alleging he owed her “Palimony” (a play on the word alimony, now known as spousal support).
Ms. Triola asserted that while there was no written contract between the parties, Mr. Marvin had promised to support her financially. She had quit her own career to manage his household and he had promised to share half of his income and the property they acquired during their time together. In her pleading she asserted his consistent actions over a long period of time demonstrated the existence of the agreement.
The trial court sided with Marvin and the case went to appeal. The appellate Court ruled in favor of Ms. Triola agreeing that if no written contract existed the parties actions did support the Court’s conclusion that a contract for palimony existed. “…except to the extent that the contract is explicitly founded on…meretricious sexual services” the Court found an implied agreement was also enforceable. As a result a nonmarital partner could recover restitution and other forms of equitable relief even if no agreement existed.
As a result, couples who live together for a substantial period of time may create an “implied” agreement here in California. This is quite important as many Millenials are deferring marriage (if they marry at all). Recent research by the Pew institute shows a sharp increase in the number of unmarried Americans.
How will palimony be decided in a North County family law court? Much like a divorce the court will determine if palimony is appropriate based on a complex legal analysis of many factors including the length of time the couple lived together, the difference in income between the parties and the ability of each to support themselves, as well as any implied agreement or written contracts between the parties and actions that might support them (such as one partner leaving their career to support the other).
If the couple have children additional legal complications will arise. This is why it is important to work with the experienced Carlsbad divorce and family law attorneys at Burke & Domercq. We protect the rights of those who have been in long-term cohabitation arrangements, and represent their interests before North County family law Courts.
We invite you to contact us or call 760-712-3741 to schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys.