Do I Have to Pay Palimony to My Girlfriend After We Separate in New Jersey?
Breaking up is never easy, but it can be even more troublesome when you find out that you have to pay palimony to your former partner. You may have heard that in some cases, the court will order you to pay palimony to your former partner even if you were never married. In some states, this is the result of something called a “common law” marriage.
Your former partner may be threatening legal action against you in order to force you to pay this palimony. On the other hand, she may have already hired a lawyer who is helping her accomplish this goal. In any case, it makes sense to learn about how this situation is handled under New Jersey law. You should also hire a lawyer who can help, especially if your former partner is already in the process of pursuing legal action against you.
New Jersey’s Stance on Common Law Marriage
New Jersey’s stance on common law marriage is quite straightforward; it was completely eliminated back in 1939. In other words, couples are not allowed to form a common law marriage under state law, and your relationship does not “automatically” become a common law marriage after you have lived together for a certain amount of time.
Because of this, none of the rules that apply to divorces apply to unmarried couples, including the division of assets. The only exception is if you have formed a common law marriage outside of the state, as New Jersey will (in some cases) recognize this as being legal.
Palimony for Unmarried Couples
With all that being said, New Jersey does offer some protections for unmarried couples through a court of equity. One example is palimony, a form of financial compensation received by the partner who is earning significantly less than the other after the split.
If you are worried about whether or not you will be forced to pay palimony to your former partner, you may be happy to learn that this type of compensation is rarely awarded by New Jersey courts, and only under very specific circumstances. In fact, it is much more difficult to receive palimony today, because the laws changed significantly after 2010. Here are some factors that New Jersey courts take into account when awarding equity:
- You must have made a promise in writing to your partner to financially support her either throughout the relationship or after its termination
- You must have been in a non-marital relationship
- Both you and your partner must have consulted with an attorney before the palimony claim was filed
- You must have signed an agreement which states that you will pay your former partner palimony
- Your relationship must have lasted for a significant amount of time – usually many years
As you can see, it is difficult for someone to receive palimony payments from someone if they did not explicitly agree to such payments and put a “promise” to make these payments in writing. The fact that you need to sign this agreement means that you are unlikely to pay palimony against your will.
That being said, marriage is not as common today as it once was, and many non-married couples may choose to enter into legal agreements that dictate the division of assets and other matters.
Getting Legal Help
It is difficult to say whether or not you will need to pay palimony after splitting up with your non-marital partner, as each situation is different. Your best bet is to team up with a qualified attorney with expert knowledge of these matters. Reach out to Giro, LLP, Prenuptial Agreement Attorneys at Law, and we can help you figure out your next move.