On January 18, 2010 departing NJ Governor Jon Corzine signed into law bill S2091, which mandates that any palimony agreement must be in writing and with the advice of independent counsel for both parties. Palimony is the common term for a promise of support by one person to another in a relationship where the parties are not married to each other. This law aims to overturn several court cases which established even implied oral support promises could be enforceable.
Previously, the NJ Supreme Court had established the concept of palimony. In Devaney v. L’Esperance, 195 N.J. 247 (2008) and in re Estate of Roccamonte, 174 N.J. 381 (2002), the New Jersey Supreme Court upheld the concept of palimony agreements between two unmarried cohabitants. In Devaney, the court held that “cohabitation is not an essential requirement for a cause of action for palimony, but a marital-type relationship is required.” In Roccamonte, the court held that an implied promise of support for life is enforceable against the promisor’s (cohabitant’s) estate. Those decisions are consistent with the court’s prior decision in Kozlowski v. Kozlowski, 80 N.J. 378 (1979), which said a promise of lifetime support by one cohabitant to another in a marital-like relationship would be enforced, if one of the partners was induced to cohabit by the promise. The court stated the right to such support is found in contract principles and that the contract may be either express or implied.
The takeaway: if you want palimony in NJ, get it in writing and have it reviewed by your attorney.