Oral Palimony Agreements that Predate N.J.S.A. 25:15 (h) Can be Enforceable
If you are a regular reader of our legal blog you will recall we recently discussed the enforceability of oral palimony agreements. Our discussion was aptly titled When it Comes to Palimony “No Written Agreement Equals No Money” and focused on the published Law Division case Cavalli vs. Arena. However, yesterday in the uppublished decision, Harrison vs Estate of Massaro, the Appellate Division upheld the validity of a palimony agreement that was not in writing. This would seem to be in direct conflict with the Cavalli case. Palimony cases have always been fact sensitive and the courts most recent decision is no exception. One of the issues on appeal was whether N.J.S.A. 25:15 (h) retroactively barred the plaintiff's palimony claim. The court in Cavalli held that the statute applied and prospectively prohibited the plaintiff from proceeding with a palimony claim. The court in Harrison came to an opposite decision and affirmed Ms. Harrison's palimony award. The Harrison court in determining whether the statute applied retroactively held, “… the absence of any clear indication of legislative intent as to the prospective any or retroactivity, the general rule was that the statute should be applied prospectively.” In reading these two recent palimony cases there seems to be a divergence of the court. This diversion could lead to a Supreme Court decision regarding the applicability of N.J.S.A. 25:15 (h) to oral agreements that pre-dated the statute. A key factual difference between the Cavalli case and the Harrison case was that Mrs. Harrison's complaint for palimony was filed before N.J.S.A. 25:15 (h) was enacted and Ms. Cavalli's complaint was filed after N.J.S.A. 25:15 (h) was enacted. The Harrison decision was seemingly silent on that fact as it was not the stated basis for affirming the palimony award. Our firm has experienced palimony 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.
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