In a significant opinion issued on June 17, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled 6-1 that cohabitation is not an absolute requirement for a successful "palimony" claim but is only one of a number of factors a court should consider.
Th ruling is important because it breaks tradition with precedent set by nearly every other state court in that a plaintiff need only prove a "marital type relationship" rather than show that the couple lived together for some period of time.
"Palimony" is a term of art for equitable recovery based on a long-term spousal type relationship between two unmarried persons. In most successful palimony claims cohabitation will exist but it is no longer an indispensable element. Instead, the "entirety of the relationship" must now be considered. Thus, persons who have a "marital type relationship" but do not live together for such reasons as employment, educational or military opportunities would qualify under the new standard. New Jersey is the first state to rule that cohabitation is not a requirement for palimony.
Although every case is determined on its own facts, the ruling eliminates one long-standing factual requirement and opens the door to new and varied situations which would previously had no legal basis.
It is important that a person involved in such a situation obtain skilled legal advice in determining how to proceed.