New Decision Requires Palimony Agreements to be in Writing
We have previously discussed palimony in New Jersey. Our discussions have focused on whether palimony agreements need to be in writing to be valid and enforceable. You may recall to specific posts which took opposite approaches to writing requirement for palimony, When it Comes to Palimony “No Written Agreement Equals No Money” and Oral Palimony Agreement Upheld on Appeal. Yesterday, the Appellate Division clarified the status of the law in its decision Beverly Maeker vs William S. Ross. In this case, the court decided whether the 2010 amendment to the Statute of Frauds N.J.S.A. 25:1-5 (h) bars any claim for palimony which is not reduced to writing where each party had independent legal advice prior to executing such an agreement. Ultimately, the court held the amendment to the Statute of Frauds applies irrespective of when the purported agreement was entered. For this court, the date of of the complaint was controlling. In this case the parties were never married and the plaintiff alleged that there was an oral promise by the defendant to provide lifetime support. She alleged oral agreement was made prior to the enactment of N.J.S.A. 25:1-5 (h) (January 18, 2010). The plaintiff went on to allege that the defendants actions confirmed the oral agreement. The trial court agreed with the plaintiff's position and awarded her temporary support in the amount of $6,000 per month and $25,000 to cover her attorney fees. An appeal was taken and the appellate court reversed the trial court decision. The appellate court reasoned, We are satisfied the words within the Amendment, construed in their ordinary terms, are clear and unambiguous in directing that enforcement of palimony agreements may only occur in those instances where the agreement has been reduced to writing and the parties have each had the benefit of independent counsel. The Amendment therefore addresses under what circumstances a promise by one party of lifetime support for another party may be enforced, irrespective of when an agreement to provide lifetime support may have been entered. In our last palimony post we opined that the retroactive application of the statute requiring a palimony agreements to be in writing may lead to a a New Jersey Supreme Court decision. That decision may still come but for now the Appellate Division as provided more clarity on the issue. Our firm has experienced palimony and family support lawyers. If you have a question regarding palimony or any other type of support contact the family law lawyers at DeMichele & DeMichele. Call today to schedule your confidential consultation (856) 546-1350.