Understanding Palimony Laws in New York

Thanks to Sesame Street, palimony has been a frequent topic of discussion in recent news. The term "palimony" describes a claim made by one party in a non-marital relationship against the other party for either support or property.

New Jersey actor Roscoe Orman, 70, is best known as Gordon on the iconic children's television show, Sesame Street. In August, 2013, he was ordered by a New Jersey Superior Court Judge to continue making palimony payments to the mother of his four children and former girlfriend of 39 years, despite the fact that Orman's alleged promise to provide for her for the rest of her life was not in writing.

The Judge's ruling contradicted a 2010 amendment to the New Jersey Statute of Frauds, which says that such promises must be in writing in order to be legally enforceable.

While no such amendment exists in New York, the courts do not typically recognize palimony agreements.

Nevertheless, with increasing rates of unmarried cohabitation and of births outside of wedlock, non-married, cohabiting couples can and should consider entering into cohabitation agreements in order to protect their individual interests.

A cohabitation agreement is essentially a written contact, similar to a prenuptial agreement, which outlines how the parties will divide property, assets and expenses in the event that they ever separate.

Couples that are interested in entering into a cohabitation agreement should consult with an experienced family law attorney who can help them sort out the important details and draft it to their liking.

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