Palimony is a non-legal term used to describe court-ordered financial support paid to a party by the other party of a non-marital relationship. Because the parties are not married and are not going through a divorce action, the payment is not referred to as alimony or spousal support. Instead, the payments are referred to as palimony payments. 

How Does Palimony Work?

When a couple lives together as partners for several years, they tend to rely on each other for financial support. As a result, their finances and assets may be commingled. In other words, the couple supports each other as if they were married.

One party might demand financial support if the couple decides to break up. For example, the party may have given up their career to be a stay-at-home parent or partner. The party might have worked to put the other party through school to obtain a degree or professional license.

Because of the sacrifice of the party, the other party has the ability to earn a higher income. Without financial support, the party earning lower wages or no income would be severely disadvantaged. They may not be able to support themselves, nor would they continue to enjoy the same or even near the same quality of life they did during the relationship.

Much like alimony, a judge would order the higher-income partner to provide financial support to the lower-income partner. Generally, the financial support would be paid monthly for a specific period or indefinitely, depending on the state law governing financial support between partners.

Where Did the Concept of Palimony Originate?

The first use of the term palimony was in a California family court case in the late 1970s. Attorney Marvin Mitchelson used the term palimony to argue that his client was entitled to financial support, even though she was not married to the other party.

Mr. Mitchelson represented Michelle Triola. Ms. Triola had a long-term relationship with Actor Lee Marvin. The parties lived together, and Ms. Triola had been using his last name while they lived together.

When the relationship ended, Ms. Triola claimed she was entitled to financial support, even though they were never legally married. The trial judge agreed and awarded Ms. Triola $104,000 for rehabilitative purposes. 

Mr. Marvin appealed the decision. The California Court of Appeal overturned the trial judge’s decision. However, the term palimony has been used in many cases and states since then. 

What States Allow Palimony?

The laws regarding palimony vary by state. Most states that recognize common law marriage permit the parties to file claims for palimony if the common law marriage ends. However, the provisions for palimony in those states may be different from each other. 

Fifteen states recognize some form of common law marriage. However, some states, like Georgia, restrict common law marriage. 

For example, common law marriage is allowed in Kansas, but only if the parties are over 18 years old. In New Hampshire, common law marriages are only recognized after the death of one of the partners.

Georgia outlawed common law marriage. Only common law marriages formed before January 1, 1997, are recognized. 

Does Georgia Have Palimony?

Georgia family laws do not recognize palimony. Therefore, parties cannot sue each other for financial support that would equate to alimony if they were not married. However, a couple can enter into a cohabitation agreement that might provide financial support to a partner if the parties agree to end the relationship.

Entering a Cohabitation Agreement To Protect Your Rights 

Cohabitation agreements for domestic partners are governed by contract law in Georgia. Therefore, parties in a domestic partnership can enter into a legally binding contract that outlines their desire to share expenses and assets while living together as a couple. However, cohabiting couples and domestic partners do not share the same rights as married couples. 

The cohabitation agreement provides the terms for dividing assets and debts if the parties decide to end their relationship. The parties may also agree to arrangements for financial support after the end of the relationship. In this sense, the agreement would be similar to “palimony” payments in other states. 

The domestic partnership agreement or cohabitation agreement must be enforceable under Georgia’s contract laws and the laws regarding domestic partnerships for a party to sue for “palimony” payments in Georgia. 

Many couples who live together have cohabitation agreements. The agreements protect the parties by ensuring each party will be treated fairly should the relationship end. 

Because Georgia laws regarding domestic partnership and cohabitation agreements are complex and can be confusing, it is best to seek legal advice before you enter into any agreement or contract with your domestic partner. In addition, city and county laws could apply in your case, depending upon where you live in Georgia. 

Contact the Family Law Lawyers at Crystal Wright Law To Get Legal Assistance Today

To learn more and get the help you deserve, call our divorce & family law firm at (404) 594-2143 or reach out to Crystal Wright Law online by visiting our contact us page.
You can also visit our law firm at 440 S. Perry Street Suite 105, Lawrenceville, GA 30046.