Palimony Support and Property
Throughout the State of California many unmarried couples are cohabitating with expectations that they may be entitled to palimony support and property should they separate. The ability of one person to obtain palimony support or property will depend on the particular facts involved. Couples may decide to live together before marriage for a variety of social and economic reasons including the affordability of housing, pursuing a career before settling down, or to test the relationship before taking the next step and getting married. Regardless of each cohabitating couple’s rationale, the legal implications remain the same and family law attorneys are regularly asked for advice regarding palimony support and property.
A California divorce attorney may advise their clients that unmarried couples are not entitled to the same support and property rights that are awarded to married couples, even if they cohabitate for a significant period of time. However, as is the case with married couples, unmarried cohabitants have the ability to contract with one another which can entitle them to palimony support and property. Express or implied contracts between unmarried cohabitants are enforceable as long as they are based on legal and valid “consideration”.
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What do I have to do to get palimony?
Palimony support and property consideration for unmarried cohabitants is defined as “bargained-for exchange” and is a necessary element to make any contact enforceable. Consideration is the benefit received or detriment suffered that each party exchanges pursuant to a contract. In a typical contract one party will pay money (benefit) and the other party will supply a good or service (detriment). Both parties must give up something in order for a contract to be enforceable.
The problem many unmarried cohabitants asserting palimony support or property run into with regard to their express or implied contracts is the legality of the consideration. Sexual services are not valid consideration because the exchange of sex for money is currently illegal in the state of California. Many cohabitants who create contracts prior to marriage include a provision regarding the parties’ sexual expectations. As long as there is additional consideration, the entire contract will not be invalidated, and can be severed from the agreement as a whole. A California court, in such a case, will simply disregard the unenforceable provision and enforce the remaining contract terms.
In order for a palimony support or property contracts between unmarried couples to be enforceable, the couple must be cohabitating. California courts have determined that the couple must be cohabitating for the exchange of domestic services which is valid consideration. Additionally, the courts have made this “cohabitation requirement” to ensure that every dating relationship would not result in a claim for palimony support and property.
Click on this link to learn more about cohabitation: Cohabitation Claims
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