“Palimony” is a term sometimes used after a couple has ended a long-term relationship in which they lived together without marriage. There are different definitions for palimony because it is not an official legal term but a play on words using “pal” and “alimony.” The basic definition is that it is the equivalent of spousal maintenance for cohabiting couples. Some expand that definition to include each party’s right to shared properties from the relationship. Illinois residents need to know that the state does not recognize palimony as a right between unmarried couples but that they can establish property claims by creating a cohabitation agreement.
A 1979 Illinois Supreme Court ruling on the case of Hewitt v. Hewitt is often cited as a landmark decision that set the precedent on issues such as palimony. Since the early 1900s, Illinois has outlawed common law marriage, a practice that recognizes long-term domestic partners as effectively married. In the 1979 case, the Supreme Court found that cohabitation does not grant people the same rights to property and financial support as they would receive if they had been married. The Supreme Court was asked to reconsider this ruling in 2016 with the case of Blumenthal v. Brewer but upheld its original decision. Because of these rulings, cohabitants living in Illinois have no legal claim to palimony because it would give them the same benefits as spousal maintenance.
How do you protect yourself financially in Illinois in the event that you break up with your partner who you have been living with? One way is to cosign when purchasing major properties such as a home, which gives you shared ownership of the property. Another way is to create a cohabitation agreement, which is similar to a prenuptial agreement in a marriage. In the cohabitation agreement, you can settle several issues on how to divide shared properties and expenses, including your:
- Household items
- Joint bank accounts
- Joint credit accounts
A Note for Parents
You do not need to be married to have a right to parental responsibilities or an obligation to pay child support. Unmarried co-parents must settle these issues when they break up if they are both recognized as the legal parents of the child. You may need to sign a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form or adopt the child to establish your parental rights.
Contact a Kane County Family Law Lawyer
Without automatic property rights, cohabitants must work in advance to create their property rights. A St. Charles, Illinois, family law attorney at Goostree Law Group can help you create a cohabitation agreement. Schedule a free consultation by calling 630-584-4800.