Can You Ask for Palimony When Your Partner is Dead?
Obtaining an award of palimony in New Jersey has become more difficult over the last few years. Palimony — a one-time financial award for a former intimate partner that never married — can only be granted in the Garden State if there is a written promise to pay it, if the palimony agreement dates from 2010. Palimony agreements pre-dating 2010 that are oral/verbal in nature may still be considered valid. Given these different standards, it’s not uncommon for former partners to end up in court when a palimony agreement is contested. But what about recouping palimony after your partner dies?
In a recent, unpublished appellate case, Soskina v. The Estate of Alexander Turyan, Inna Soskina filed a lawsuit against her former long-term paramour’s estate, seeking palimony and other relief. The trial court denied her claim for palimony but did award her about $94,000 representing the return of her loan to Turyan to buy a condo in Florida, plus twenty percent of the net profit from the sale of the condo. The trial court also gave Soskina $300,000 that Turyan had directed one of his debtors to repay directly to Soskina. That $300,000 had been taken by Turyan’s brother and sister while representing his estate.
Based on a written and signed document that was provided to the trial court, it was clear that Soskina gave Turyan $20,000 toward the down payment of a Florida condo, in return for which Turyan agreed to repay her the $20K plus 20% of the net profit when it was sold. Turyan’s brother argued that Soskina was given back this money already, as evidenced by an uncashed $29,000 check to her from Turyan. But, there was no proof that this check was for repayment of the loan or part of the proceeds of the sale of the condo.
Further, on his deathbed, Turyan told a business associate named Vladimir Pantaleev that he should pay a $300,000 debt that was owed by Turyan to Soskina. This direction was not only repeated in front of several witnesses, it was written down and signed. However, once Turyan died, Pantaleev paid the money to his brother and sister and not to Soskina. The brother and sister claimed that the money was for a new business investment, and that Pantaleev never owed Turyan the money, but the court did not believe this argument, either.
Lastly, Turyan’s brother claimed that it was unfair he was not allowed to call medical witnesses to discuss Turyan’s mental state in the hospital when he signed these documents. He also claimed it was unfair that the trial court allowed the hospital notary to testify as to Turyan’s mental capacity. But, the appellate court found that the brother did not mention any medical witnesses at trial, nor did he object to the notary’s testimony at the trial court.
It is unclear why the trial court in this matter did not award Soskina palimony. She did not appeal that ruling and seemed satisfied with the repayment of the condo loan and the $300,000 payment from Pantaleev. And, we may never know. But, what is clear is that there was certainly enough evidence for the court to find that Soskina was promised and owed money. And, it seems that any court, not just the family court, could have come to that determination.
If you are interested in learning more about palimony or feel that you may be entitled to financial support or other assets from your long-term partner, please contact us to schedule your initial consultation with one of our qualified attorneys experienced in all aspects of divorce and family law in New Jersey.
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