Everything You Need to Know About California Palimony

You are probably familiar with many of the key issues that must be determined when a married couple elects to end their marriage, such as dividing property, establishing child custody and support, and potentially even paying spousal support (alimony). But those who live together for years without marrying also intertwine their lives and finances in many ways. What happens when they decide to break up and end their relationship? Should a partner who otherwise would be entitled to spousal support if they had been married be denied financial support from their partner because the couple did not believe in getting married or had other reasons for not obtaining a legal union?

With the rise in popularity of cohabitation without marriage, it has become necessary to have some system in place that allows one person to be justly compensated after a breakup in certain situations. In California, this is known as palimony, which was first established by a 1976 California Supreme Court decision (Marvin v. Marvin). It is important to note that palimony is legally NOT the same as spousal support. This was made very clear in the actual Supreme Court decision.

Who Can Qualify for Palimony?

This is where the issue of palimony can get really confusing. There are no clear laws that identify who can get palimony, and when. This means that judges are left to decide who should get palimony, how much they should get, and for how long. Some basic guidelines that judges typically consider include:

  • How long the parties lived together
  • Did one of the parties provide significantly more of the financial support than the other
  • What, if any, property or major assets were purchased as a couple
  • Did one party offer valuable services to the other (including business related services) without just compensation
  • Was there any type of verbal or written agreement concerning property or sharing support

Prior to 2008 when same-sex marriage became legal in California, palimony was commonly used in situations where a same-sex couple broke up after living together for some time. Even today there are many same-sex couples that have been living together for a very long time, and haven’t gotten legally married. Should they break up, palimony can become a factor to help ease the transition for the party that may not have been earning money during the relationship.

Seeking Palimony

If you are ending a long term non-marital relationship and want to see if you can qualify for palimony, it is important to speak with an attorney who has experience in this area. While having palimony granted is not very common, there are times when it is appropriate. Having an attorney who can make a strong argument in favor of palimony will give you the best possible chances of success.

Contact Us

If you have any questions about palimony in California, please don’t hesitate to contact us to speak with Attorney Madan Ahluwalia. He can discuss the specifics of your case with you and determine whether or not it is likely that you could be granted palimony based on the facts.

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Written by Ahluwalia Law Professional Corporation

Ahluwalia Law Professional Corporation

Welcome to Ahluwalia Law, P.C., the home of Attorney Madan Ahluwalia. Madan has been practicing law since 1994, and has been managing his own firm serving the San Francisco Bay Area since 1995. He is passionate about building long-lasting relationships with each client, which begins by offering affordable, efficient, and personalized services.