How does palimony work in California?

Sharman L. Brooks

Anyone who cohabits with a partner in California should know the basics of palimony laws. Palimony has been recognized in California since the mid-1970s. In essence, palimony payments are support payments for a former partner who was not married to you. There are some important differences between palimony and spousal support.

Palimony actions

Divorces are handled in family law courts in California, but palimony claims are different. They are filed in civil courts. Usually, they’re treated like a breach of contract or implied partnership. Palimony claims may depend on a number of factors.

The length of time the couple was together may be taken into account. Promises of financial support, even oral agreements, might come into play. Witnesses to the claims can help bolster them if the claims are not in writing. The education and work history of the partner asking for support might also be considered. If they are unlikely to be able to support themselves while single, that may influence the court.

One reason that California recognizes palimony claims is that the state does not have common-law marriage. Common-law marriages from other states may be recognized by the courts, but no relationship originating in California will be recognized as a common-law marriage.

Cohabitation agreement

Anyone who finds themselves on either side of a California palimony claim should seek legal advice. An experienced attorney may be able to help you understand how palimony works in the state. Additionally, couples who live together may want to consider a cohabitation agreement. This document can spell out how much money each partner will contribute to household expenses and what kind of support will be paid should the relationship dissolve.

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