On his last day in office in January 2010, Governor Corzine signed a bill amending the Statute of Frauds to require that all palimony contracts had to be in writing. The bill was a knee jerk reaction by the legislature who were unhappy with a number of more recent court decisions liberally allowing for palimony claims including the ruling in Devaney v. L’Esperance that cohabitation was not necessary to palimony claim. We have blogged on the new statute in the past. Since that time, the debate and raged, and litigation has ensued, over whether the law applied to pending palimony claims. In fact, courts were split on whether pending claims should continue or whether they should be dismissed. The question was answered by the Appellate Division on April 21, 2011, in the case of Botis v. Estate of Kudrick et al when the court definitively held that the statute was to only be applied prospectively.
In this case, the parties met in high school in the 1950s and married other people, but commenced a relationship in the 1970s after the end of their respective marriages. They eventually moved in together and had a marriage like relationship as alleged by the plaintiff. She even claims that she invested the proceeds of the sale of her home into furnishing the defendant’s newly expanded home. They later jointly purchased a home together in Wareton which was later transferred only into the defendant’s name, allegedly for tax purposes. Plaintiff claimed that because of his superior finances, defendant promised to take care of her financially in the lifestyle they had shared together in the event of his death. However, when the defendant became stricken with cancer, plaintiff learned that she was not provided for in his will. As such, she sought palimony and transfer of title of the two homes to her. The litigation in which the man’s estate was the defendant, was characterized as “entrenched and highly adversarial” on all issues.