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Can You Get Alimony if You Are Not Married? 

With a rise in co-habitation, it’s a question a lot of people are asking. 

Can a Girlfriend Ask for Alimony? 

It’s called “palimony,” and, yes, it’s a real thing. However, it’s also really unusual. Not all states allow a person who wasn’t married to their ex to request financial support, especially when the couple does not meet the standard for a common-law marriage. So if you were unmarried, and you want “palimony”, you need to speak to an attorney who knows the laws in your state. Generally, however, if you did not financially support your girlfriend (or boyfriend) during the relationship, and you have given them no reason to expect support after the relationship, palimony will likely not be relevant. And even if you did support them, and give them reason to believe that you would support them financially, your ex would likely need to jump through quite a few hoops to get palimony. So, can your girlfriend—or boyfriend—ask you for financial assistance after the break up? Yes, but if they do, it’s not likely that they’ll get it, especially if they don’t qualify for common-law marriage, or your state does not recognize common-law marriage. And even if they can get your relationship recognized as a marriage not solemnized, they may not necessarily qualify for alimony under your state’s law. 

What Is Palimony and How Does It Work? 

Palimony is a form of financial assistance given to an ex-boyfriend or an ex-girlfriend. You do not have to obtain a common-law marriage in order to qualify to receive palimony. However, it’s more common for people to attempt to obtain a common-law marriage and then request alimony, as opposed to attempting to get a palimony award. 

How Long Do You Have to Be together to Get Alimony? 

First things first: you generally need to be married to qualify for an alimony award. If your state recognizes common-law marriages, you may be able to request that your relationship be recognized as a marriage not solemnized. If you are successful in this endeavor, you will go through the divorce proceedings in the same way a married person would. During the divorce proceedings, your attorney can help you determine if you would be successful in obtaining an alimony reward. The requirements for the length of the marriage will determine on where you’re located. States like Utah have generous alimony laws compared to other states such as Texas. For example, in Utah, alimony is generally up to the judge’s discretion. However, couples who were married for longer are more likely to get alimony in Utah, assuming their situation warrants alimony. However, in Texas, you must be married for at least ten years in order to qualify for alimony. Since different states have different rules regarding who’s eligible for alimony, it’s important to speak to an attorney who’s licensed in your state if you have concerns about paying or receiving alimony. 

After How Many Years in a Relationship Are You Considered Married? 

Despite common misconception, common-law marriages aren’t the result of a really, really long relationship. Instead, you have to meet a certain set of requirements and petition the courts to recognize your relationship as a marriage not solemnized. Generally, this is pretty difficult to do and in some cases, it’s more trouble than it’s worth. Furthermore, not all states recognize common-law marriages, so it may be worth looking into whether or not it’s even an option in your state. Even if your state does recognize common-law marriages, it’s likely in your best interests to speak with an attorney whether or not it would benefit you. 

Can Living with a Boyfriend Affect Alimony? 

Can living with a new boyfriend or girlfriend affect alimony? Again, it’s going to depend on where you’re located as well as the terms that are in your divorce decree. Some divorce decrees have terms that specify that alimony payments end as soon as a person moves in with a new significant other regardless of whether or not they’re married to that person. If your divorce decree says anything of this sort, there’s a good chance that your alimony payments could be affected by a significant other moving in. If you have questions about what could impact the alimony that you receive, it’s a good idea to speak with an attorney who can help you understand the terms you’ve agreed to in your divorce decree. In some cases, moving in with a new boyfriend or girlfriend will not effect alimony, in other cases it would. 

What Happens if You Split up and Are Not Married? 

Generally speaking, if you break up with a person that you were not married to, you have no legal rights to their personal belongings or their finances. However, in an age where cohabitation is normal, it’s not uncommon for two unmarried people to be on a lease or even a mortgage together. In these situations, you may not be completely without obligation to your lender or landlord. For example, if you stop paying your half of the rent and, therefore rent never gets paid, both you and your ex could face the consequences. However, if you simply lived in your ex’s house, you may not have any rights to the house after you and your ex break up. But, depending on the laws of your state, they may have to go through a formal eviction process and give you notice. 

How Do You Get Palimony? 

In the states that recognize palimony the courts will look to whether you and your partner entered into a contract. Contracts can be written, oral (express), or implied. The contract is generally valid if the parties agree to live together an pool their income or assets. The court may also consider factors similar to those analyzed in a common law marriage case. This is an equitable cause of action, essentially meaning that the court can make things fair between the partners. What is fair is determined by the court given the circumstances. Palimony is not isolated to men or women in a relationship, the principles can be asserted by either partner. 

When You Have Questions 

If you have concerns related to alimony, contact CoilLaw to book an initial consultation with one of our experienced attorneys today. 


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