If you are divorcing, then the court may order you to pay spousal support if your financial status is better than that of your spouse. This is what is known as alimony. Did you know that you may be ordered to make comparable payments even if you were not married, have been cohabiting for some time and are now separating? In this case, it is known as palimony and the court may order you to pay it if:
You Have a Support Agreement
The court will order you to pay palimony if you have a written agreement of financial support. Such an agreement, known as cohabitation agreement, allows you to live together as a couple without getting married (legally). A cohabitation agreement helps to maintain your assets and debts as separate entities and usually includes some recognition of financial support.
Though it's easier to enforce if it is written, some courts may also recognize oral agreements in the presence of extraordinary circumstances. An example of an extraordinary circumstance is an extremely lengthy cohabitation period. The availability of a witness also increases the chances of recognition of the oral agreement.
You Have Cohabited For a Long Time
Another issue that the court will consider is the length of your cohabitation. The longer you have been living together, the more likely you are to pay palimony. Whether or not your cohabitation period qualifies as a "lengthy" period is up to the judge. However, it's safe to assume that a cohabitation of a few months may not involve this payment while you are likely to pay it after several years of cohabitation.
Your Partner Sacrificed To Live With You
Did your partner give up anything in order to live with you? If the answer is yes, then you will probably be paying palimony. For example, it might be that he or she stopped running his or her business, going to school or quit his or her job in order to be your homemaker. In this case, you are likely to pay palimony in recognition of these sacrifices.
Your Partner Contributed To Your Financial Status
Finally, the court is also likely to order for palimony payments if your partner has contributed to your current financial status. The contribution may be monetary or nonmonetary. For example, he or she might have paid for your school fees or agreed to take care of your kids so that you can manage your business in a full-time capacity. The recognition of this contribution is even more likely if there is a huge disparity between your incomes or financial status.
Most states recognize palimony, but the laws governing the payments vary a lot. For example, some states only recognize written cohabitation agreements, but not local ones. Thus, a family attorney (such as one from The Law Office Of James R. Kennedy Jr.) is the best bet to help you determine whether you may be required to pay palimony or not.