Palimony is a term describing financial support between unmarried partners after a breakup. Divorce attorney Marvin Mitchelson first used the term palimony in the late 1970s.
His client (Michelle Triola) alleged Actor Lee Marvin should pay her financial compensation. They were not married, but she claimed they had an oral agreement regarding financial support. She had begun using his last name while they lived together.
The trial court ordered Marvin to pay Triola $104,000 for rehabilitative purposes. The California Court of Appeal overturned the decision. However, the concept of palimony was created.
Does Florida Recognize Palimony for Unmarried Couples?
Florida does not recognize palimony rights or palimony claims. Furthermore, Florida does not recognize common law marriage either.
Likewise, Florida does not recognize domestic partnerships. As of 2015, the state does recognize same-sex marriage.
Therefore, a palimony suit will likely be dismissed by Florida courts. However, there is an exception.
Suppose your common law marriage was established in a state that recognizes common law marriages. Then, your palimony case could be heard by Florida courts.
If you are unsure whether you have the right to financial support after ending a cohabitation relationship, contact an Orlando divorce lawyer for advice.
Rights of Unmarried Couples in Florida to Financial Support and Property Division
Being married conveys specific legal rights and benefits to both spouses. For example, married couples have the right to seek spousal support and an equitable division of marital assets during a divorce action. However, unmarried couples do not have the same rights.
Even though unmarried couples might not have the right to seek palimony in Florida, they can take steps to protect their interests if they break up with a long-term partner.
Parties can enter a cohabitation agreement or non-marital agreement. A cohabitation agreement can include palimony agreements.
Like a pre-nuptial agreement, the parties can agree to the terms of financial support should the relationship end. Also, the agreement can identify jointly owned property and set terms for dividing the property if either party leaves the relationship.
Non-marital agreements and cohabitation agreements are considered contracts, provided they meet the requirements for a legal contract in Florida. Therefore, cohabitation agreements are subject to Florida contract law. The relationship is treated as a business relationship instead of a domestic relationship.
Because of this distinction, the agreement might not be considered “fair” under family law, but the courts can still enforce the agreement under contract law. The parties can choose whatever terms they desire. Therefore, seeking legal advice before entering a palimony agreement with your partner is always wise.
Unmarried parents have a right to be involved in their child’s life unless otherwise ordered by a court. In addition, Florida child support laws require both parents to support their children financially. Therefore, a couple that is not married has the same rights and responsibilities to their children as married couples.
However, suppose the mother and father did not establish paternity at birth. In that case, an unmarried parent may need to file a paternity action to establish parental rights and obligations if the other parent disputes paternity.
Alimony Rights in Florida Divorce Cases
Married couples can receive spousal support under Florida divorce laws. Factors that the court considers when deciding alimony claims include:
- The duration of the marriage
- The ages and overall health of both spouses
- The standard of living the couple enjoyed during the marriage
- Each spouse’s contributions to the marriage, including financial and non-financial contributions
- The assets and financial resources of each spouse
- Each spouse’s current income and/or the ability to earn income
- The tax effects of paying and receiving alimony payments
The type of support depends on several factors. The types of spousal support granted by Florida courts include:
Temporary Alimony – The judge grants temporary alimony during the divorce case. Temporary alimony ends when the court issues a final divorce decree, if not before that time.
Bridge-the-Gap Alimony – This type of spousal support is also referred to as transitional alimony. It allows a spouse to transition from being in a marriage to being a single person. Generally, bridge-the-gap alimony is paid for no more than two years.
Rehabilitative Alimony – A spouse who remained at home during the marriage may not have the skills, education, or experience to obtain suitable employment to support themselves. Rehabilitative alimony provides financial support for the spouse while they obtain the necessary skills or education to live independently.
Durational Alimony – Generally, courts consider the duration of the marriage when awarding spousal support. When a couple is married for a short or moderate amount of time, the judge may grant alimony for a specific period that does not exceed the duration of the marriage.
Permanent Alimony – The spouse receives support payments until they remarry or either spouse dies. Judges usually only grant permanent alimony in cases that involve long-term marriages.
Typically, the spousal support is paid in monthly payments. However, the judge could award a lump-sum alimony payment.
How Does a Pre-Nuptial Agreement Affect Alimony in Florida?
Pre-nuptial agreements allow individuals to set terms for their divorce before their marriage. In other words, the couple decides how specific issues will be addressed if they decide to divorce. Issues covered by marital agreements include but are not limited to spousal support, property division, and inheritance.
If a pre-nuptial agreement is valid, the terms of the alimony agreement can be enforced by a court. Therefore, if both spouses waived support payments, the court would deny an alimony claim. Likewise, if a spouse agrees to pay permanent alimony, the court should uphold that agreement during a divorce action.
A pre-nuptial agreement must meet the requirements of the Florida Uniform Premarital Agreement Act to be enforceable. The marital agreement:
- Must be in writing and signed by both parties
- Both parties must execute the agreement voluntarily
- Threats, fraud, coercion, and duress make the agreement unenforceable
- A judge can rule part or all of a marital agreement unenforceable if it is overreaching or unconscionable
Pre-marital agreements become effective when the parties get married. However, if a marriage is ruled to be void by a court, the marital agreement is only enforceable to the extent of avoiding an inequitable result.
Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Orlando Family Law Attorneys
Are you considering a divorce, or do you have questions about family law matters? Please contact our law office or give us a call at (407) 831-0203 to schedule a free case review with an experienced Orlando family law attorney at Conti Moore Law Divorce Lawyers, PLLC. We provide guidance, support, and advice regarding your legal rights as you decide the best way to handle your situation.