In a long-awaited decision in the case of Maeker v. Ross the New Jersey Supreme Court has unanimously decided that oral “palimony” agreements entered into before revisionary legislation in 2010 will remain legally enforceable. The Court’s September 25 decision reversed the appellate court which had ruled that Ms. Maeker could not pursue her palimony claim against Mr. Ross due to a bill signed into law by Governor Christie in 2010 requiring all palimony agreements to be in writing. The Court has thus settled an issue closely watched by judges, lawyers and potential litigants by breathing new life into Ms. Maeker’s claim that Mr. Ross had breached their oral agreement to provide her with lifetime support.

The Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the appellate court had erred because there was no showing the new law was ever intended to apply retroactively although it was not disputed that Ms. Maeker and Mr. Ross had more than sufficient time since 2010 to reduce their oral agreement to writing. The Court opined that upholding the lower court’s decision would “void the indeterminate number of oral palimony agreements that predated [the new law’s] enactment”. Maeker v. Ross is a significant decision which will reverberate for years to come.