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Palimony: The Ultimate Bad Break-up

If you’ve ever been through a break-up, you probably know how difficult it can be to get over a former boyfriend or girlfriend. Recovering from a break-up is made difficult as you learn to redefine yourself as a single person again. Having been in a relationship, you may need to become comfortable again on the singles circuit or regain your ability to get into a new relationship with another person. These are difficult problems to overcome, but you can do it.

And if your break-up includes palimony, things can get even more complicated.

What Is Palimony?

Imagine breaking up with your boyfriend or girlfriend and then having to financially support him or her. That is what happens with palimony. The term palimony is a play on the words “pal” and “alimony.” Alimony is what one spouse is required to pay the other spouse in a divorce. It is a series of payments made each month to help the supported spouse get “back on their feet.”

But what if the two of you weren’t married? That’s where palimony comes in. Palimony acts as a kind of alimony for those who have been living together for a period of time but were never legally married.

In California, there is no common-law marriage, so the court will not consider living together as evidence of an implied “commitment” by the person with a greater income to support the one with a lower income. Yet, if one person made a contractually enforceable promise to support the other even after a break-up, the court could order this person to follow through on that promise. An oral promise or contract is difficult to prove in court, and most of the time, the court will not order support payments if the couple has not been married.

To avoid such a scenario, think carefully before you move in with your significant other. Then, if you still want to, consider creating a written separation agreement. A separation agreement should spell out the financial relationship between you and your partner and the expectations each of you have in the event the relationship ends. This agreement can help to ensure that if you ever break up, you will not be forced to financially support your ex.