Regular readers of this blog know that we were involved in the landmark palimony case, Maeker v. Ross, which was recently decided by the New Jersey Supreme Court.  We previously blogged about our win in the Appellate Division.

Unfortunately, the Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Legislature could not have intended for the statute

Very often, we blog on cases for which we have had no involvement.  Today we get to toot our own horn a little and blog on one of our cases that made new law.  The case is Maeker v. Ross, a reported (precedential) opinion decided on February 4, 2013 by the Appellate Division.  This case may very well represent the death knell of palimony cases as we knew them. 

As we blogged about in the past, in 2010, the Legislature passed an amendment to the Statute of Frauds which required palimony agreements to be in writing and further stated that no action for palimony shall be brought unless the agreement was in writing  The Appellate Division quite definitively interpreted the legislative intent of the amendment to preclude any palimony suits brought after the amendment unless there was a written agreement that complied with the amendment, even if the relationship and alleged promise for support predated the amendment.  The Appellate Division stated:

… The motion judge found that plaintiff’s complaint was not barred by the 2010 amendment to the Statute of Frauds, N.J.S.A. 25:1-5(h) (Amendment), requiring a writing memorializing palimony agreements and independent advice of counsel for each party in advance of executing any such agreement. We reverse and hold that the Amendment is enforcement legislation that addresses under what circumstances
a claimed breach of a palimony agreement may be enforced irrespective of when the purported agreement was entered.
 

In this case, the parties were in a more than 10 year relationship where they resided together and defendant provided for support and other financial benefits for plaintiff.  There was, however, no joint property, joint accounts, and nothing other than insignificant joint financial ties.  The trial judge allowed the claim for palimony to continue based upon an implied promise of support (palimony).


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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 claimWe 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.


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The law surrounding palimony has been fluid in the last several months as the New Jersey Courts have refined litigants rights after the break up of relationships in which the parties were not married. Most of the decisions are consistent with the New Jersey Supreme Court’s decision in Kozlowski v. Kozlowski, 80 N.J. 378