Does Florida Recognize Palimony?
Palimony is similar to alimony in that it provides support for a lesser-earning partner after a relationship ends. It differs from alimony in that the partners did not have to be married. In fact, the threshold criteria for palimony is quite low: a romantic relationship and cohabitation.
Some couples create a prenuptial agreement prior to getting married that specifies division of property and alimony payments in the event that the relationship ends. However, courts can still order the higher-earning spouse to pay the lesser-earning spouse alimony payments following the divorce in the absence of such an agreement. Palimony is similar. Although Florida courts will not impose palimony payments in the absence of evidence suggesting a legal agreement, couples can preemptively enter into a palimony agreement, essentially the same way they would enter into a prenuptial agreement or any other contract. A family law lawyer can help create an agreement for you and your partner that is fair and ensures you’re protected in the event that the relationship ends.
The Importance of Documentation
While in other states, palimony agreements can be oral or implied from the parties’ conduct, Florida does not recognize “palimony” as a legal concept. Similarly, it does not recognize common law marriages. However, it does recognize contract law. For this reason, any documentation of a written, verbal, or implied agreement is especially helpful, and makes for compelling evidence. It’s important to note that a written agreement will always be the strongest in court. If you can show that a palimony agreement existed, an experienced family law attorney may be able to help you pursue a financial settlement the same way you would with a prenuptial agreement or any other contract.
The Benefits of Palimony
Marriage is a contract that creates an ongoing obligation between two people and can trigger financial responsibilities when it concludes. However, in the absence of a marriage, there is no financial obligation to care for another partner financially, even when the partners have been living together, in a romantic relationship, with shared children, for decades, and significant sacrifices have been made in reliance on the promise of being cared for.
Many times, couples acquire property together, such as a home or car, that only has one of the partners’ names on the title. Legally that property only belongs to the individual whose name is on the title, even if the other partner paid for most or all of it. Palimony can remedy that inequity by making sure you’re compensated for your share of commonly acquired assets, or by allowing you and your partner to decide in advance how you want assets to be distributed.
A palimony agreement allows couples to specify the division of assets and property acquired during the relationship, as well as if one partner will be responsible for making palimony payments to the other should their relationship end. This can be a great option for couples who plan on being together long-term, but are not planning on getting married, or for unmarried couples who share assets, like a home or cars.
Historically, courts have ordered palimony payments almost as a form of promissory estoppel, ensuring that one partner who gave up their career to care for shared children in exchange for being financially cared for is still financially cared for after upholding their end of the bargain.
Contact an Experienced Florida Family Law Attorney
If you are interested in entering into a palimony agreement with your partner, or feel you are entitled to payments based on a pre-existing written, oral, or implied agreement, it’s important to speak to an experienced Florida family law attorney as soon as possible. The experienced Fort Lauderdale divorce attorneys at the office of Joyce A. Julian, P.A. will assess your unique circumstances and help you determine the best option for you. Schedule your free consultation online or call us today at 954-467-6656.