Property Rights of Unmarried Couples FAQ

What is palimony? And should we make any agreements about it?

Palimony is a phrase coined by journalists -- not a legal concept -- to describe the division of property or alimony-like support paid to one partner in an unmarried couple by the other after a breakup. Members of unmarried couples are not legally entitled to such payments unless they've made an agreement about it.

In the famous case of Marvin v. Marvin, the California Supreme Court ruled that a person who lived with a partner and later sued for support could argue that an implied contract existed between the partners. To avoid a battle over palimony, it's wise to create a written agreement that speaks to whether or not one partner will make payments to the other in case of a break-up.

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