Since 1939, the state of New Jersey has not recognized “common law” marriage. Before the abolishment of the common law statute, couples in long-term relationships who acted in all respects as husband and wife were considered under the law to be equal to marriage. Palimony agreements between unmarried individuals were common occurrences in New Jersey, which potentially gave rise to claims for support from one person to the other if one party promised to support the other party for life. Such agreements were generally oral agreements and could be implied between the adults given their course of conduct. As long as the agreement was not clearly and inseparably founded on sexual services, or entered into under a promise to marry, a court was likely to uphold the agreement. Cohabitation was not an essential factor in palimony claims but just one factor for a judge to consider in determining whether a marital-type relationship existed between the parties.
In 2009, the New Jersey Statute of Frauds, N.J.S.A. 25:1-5 was modified to add part (h) requiring that “ a promise by one party to a non-marital personal relationship to provide support or other consideration for the other party, either during the course of such relationship or after its termination. For the purposes of this subsection, no such written promise is binding unless it was made with the independent advice of counsel for both parties.” That modification changed the nature of palimony actions in New Jersey now that oral agreements between unmarried adults are not proper. The question remains whether there is pipeline retroactivity for claims filed before the statute was modified.