Palimony: A Legal Option for Unmarried Couples

Posted by heritagelawoffices on Jan 7, 2019 in Blog, Family Law


Palimony is essentially alimony for unmarried couples who have been living together for a period of time. These alimony-like support payments are sometimes made available to unmarried couples who have decided to separate. Whether it’s monthly payments or one lump sum, it’s worth chatting with your lawyer to see how palimony works in your province.

The term “palimony” was coined during the Marvin case in 1976. In this case, actor Lee Marvin and his long term partner Michele Triola had lived together for a number of years. Upon separating, Triola sued Marvin for palimony after stating that Marvin had agreed to support her financially, which caused her to leave her career to become a homemaker. While there was no written contract stating this, it was decided that the couple’s actions supported the conclusion that an implied contract for palimony existed in the relationship. While many areas require a written or oral contract, some places agree that implied agreements are enough.

Do I Qualify for Palimony?

A family law attorney can help you determine whether or not you may be entitled to palimony support. In general, there are certain factors that the courts will consider when deciding whether or not to award palimony, including:

  • If the couple had any written agreements or contracts regarding financial support (oral promises or agreements may be able to be corroborated by other evidence)
  • The length of the relationship (partners in relationships over 10 years have a greater chance of being awarded financial support)
  • Any sacrifices made by either partner to support the other, for example giving up a career in order to take care of the home or children or providing financial assistance to put a partner through school
  • A significant difference between the partners’ incomes

How to Avoid Palimony Issues

Signing a cohabitation agreement can go a long way in terms or helping you avoid being on either end of a palimony request. These agreements cover what will happen in the event of a break up and help to keep both parties protected.

For expert advice on palimony or cohabitation agreements, contact the team at Heritage Law.