Is Your NJ Palimony Agreement Legal?

Handshake(Updated 7/1/2015) If you and your partner put a palimony agreement in place before 2010, a new bill making its way through the New Jersey Legislature may have a serious impact on the legality of your agreement should it ever need to be enforced.

As reported previously, the New Jersey Senate Judiciary Committee voted in May in favor of passing S2553, a bill that would retroactively apply a 2010 law requiring all palimony agreements to be put in writing if they are to be enforceable. In late June, the bill was introduced on the NJ Senate floor and was passed by lawmakers by a vote of 21-14.

The new bill was introduced in the wake of the New Jersey Supreme Court’s 2014 ruling in the appeal of Maeker v. Ross, 430 N.J. Super. 79 (App. Div. 2013). As we have written about, the ruling handed down by the state’s highest court held that couples with verbal (non-written) palimony agreements could still go to court to enforce those agreements, provided they were made prior to January 18, 2010. Further, the court unanimously ruled that there was nothing in the language of the 2010 law that suggested it was meant to apply retroactively.

In recommending passage of S2553, Judiciary Committee Chairman Nicholas Scutari, D-Union, said it was, indeed, the intent of lawmakers to have the 2010 legislation apply retroactively. The new bill, if passed, will essentially make the Supreme Court’s ruling in Maeker v. Ross null and void.

As reported by the NJ Law Journal, the bill must still pass the Assembly, where there is no companion measure, and be signed by Gov. Chris Christie if it is to become law.

We continue to provide updates as the bill progresses through the Legislature. In the meantime, if you are putting in place a new palimony agreement or have questions about how to turn an oral palimony agreement into a legally binding written document, we encourage to please contact us to schedule your initial attorney consultation. We are here to help.