May 31, 2022
Heymann & Fletcher Featured in New Jersey Law Journal for Case Regarding Palimony Law
Recently Heymann & Fletcher was featured in the New Jersey Law Journal. This article outlines a decision that has set a new precedent in New Jersey for the enforceability of palimony agreements signed after a change in the law in 2010.
The litigants were a couple who lived together from 1988 until 2011. When they broke up, they entered into an agreement that set parameters for support, commonly known as “palimony.” In 2010, the legislature changed the requirements for palimony agreements and required them to be in writing, signed by the parties with each party having “the independent advice of counsel.” In 2017, Mr. Harrison made the argument that he didn’t have the independent advice of counsel, so the agreement was void.
The trial was held in 2020 with Stephen Fletcher as lead counsel and Alix Claps assisting. The Trial Court ruled in favor of Ms. Primmer, finding that Mr. Harrison did have the advice of counsel, even though the attorney did not sign the agreement. Afterwards, Mr. Harrison was dissatisfied with the Court’s ruling and sought review by the Appellate Division. Alix then represented Ms. Primmer on the Appeal.
While the appeal was pending, the New Jersey Supreme Court, in another palimony matter, decided that the requirement that parties have the independent advice of counsel was a violation of the New Jersey Constitution. As a result, the legal team at Heymann and Fletcher were able to make arguments to the Appellate Division not just about what happened during the trial, but how the NJ Supreme Court’s new ruling affected our case.
The Appellate Division determined both that the trial judge reached the correct decision and that the ruling of the New Jersey Supreme Court should apply to our matter, making some of Mr. Harrison’s arguments moot since there was no longer a requirement that he have an attorney for the agreement to be valid. Likely because our decision involved a new rule as to the interpretation of the law, it was submitted to a committee and approved for publication. This means that attorneys may rely on it as persuasive law and trial courts will be bound by it for cases with similar circumstances. Eventually, the case will have a formal citation, but that has not been assigned yet.
At this time, Mr. Harrison has indicated that he intends to seek permission to have the New Jersey Supreme Court hear this matter. We will keep you up to date on the Supreme Court decision if it progresses to that level.