Palimony/ Cohabitation

Palimony and Cohabitation in Nevada

Palimony is a term for support payments (alimony) provided for formerly cohabiting couples who are not legally married. It can also refer to a division of property for cohabiting couples after their separation.

Unmarried cohabiting couples may apply community property laws to their acquired property. To do so, both partners must have agreed to share their property together as if they were married. Palimony and cohabitation in Nevada are dynamic topics.

If you have questions about palimony or cohabitation in Nevada, contact an experienced lawyer. Anthem Divorce Lawyers have over 25 years of experience. Contact us today for a consultation.

What Is Palimony?

Palimony can refer to two different terms, both applicable to unmarried, cohabiting couples.

  1. Support palimony is a term for support payments (alimony) provided for cohabiting couples after they separate.
  2. Property palimony is a term for a cohabiting couple’s property rights after they separate.

What Is Alimony?

Court ordered support for a spouse during and after a divorce is alimony. Under NRS 125.150, the court may award alimony as appears “just and equitable."

How Does the Court Award Alimony?

In determining whether to award alimony, the court shall consider the following factors:

  • Financial condition of each spouse.
  • Nature and value of the respective property of each spouse.
  • Contribution of each spouse to any property held by the spouses pursuant to NRS 123.030.
  • Duration of the marriage.
  • Income, earning capacity, age, and health of each spouse.
  • Standard of living during the marriage.
  • Career before the marriage of the spouse who would receive the alimony.
  • Existence of specialized education or training or the level of marketable skills attained by each spouse during the marriage.
  • Contribution of either spouse as homemaker.
  • Award of property granted by the court in the divorce, other than child support and alimony, to the spouse who would receive the alimony.
  • The physical and mental condition of each party as it relates to the financial condition, health and ability to work of that spouse.

The court has great discretion in deciding whether to award alimony, and if so, how much and for how long.

Does Nevada Award Support Palimony?

Nevada’s approach to support palimony is unclear. Unlike alimony, Nevada does not have a statutory basis for support palimony. In Williams v. Williams, 120 Nev. Adv. Op. 64, 97 P.3d 1124 (2004), the Nevada Supreme Court addressed palimony in its opinion. The Williams opinion states it is Nevada’s policy to refuse to “recognize common-law marriages or palimony suits."

Williams v. Williams

In Williams, the Nevada Supreme Court applied the putative spouse doctrine in an annulled marriage. The court stated that fairness and equity favor recognizing putative spouses when:

  • Parties enter into a marriage ceremony in good faith and without knowledge that there is a factual or legal impediment to their marriage.

The Nevada Supreme Court overturned the lower court’s award of spousal support (palimony). The Williams court stated:

  • Absent an equitable basis of bad faith or fraud or a statutory basis, the district court had no authority to grant the spousal support award, and we reverse that part of the judgment awarding spousal support.

What Is Community Property?

Nevada is a community property state. This means that in a divorce, the courts will equally divide community property and debt among spouses. A spouse may be entitled to keep their separate property. Palimony can refer to a cohabiting couple’s property rights after they separate. Property palimony is community property “by analogy."

Does Nevada Recognize Cohabitation Agreements?

In Nevada, unmarried couples may cohabit and agree to apply community property law to their acquired property “by analogy.” To apply community property laws to unmarried cohabiting couple’s property, both partners must:

  • Agree to hold property together as though they were married.

The partners can agree explicitly through a written or verbal agreement or implicitly through their conduct.

What Is a Cohabitation Agreement?

A written cohabitation agreement agreement can be similar to a premarital agreement. Both agreements can define the parties’ rights in the event of a break-up. Unlike a premarital agreement, a cohabitation agreement does not require marriage to go into effect. In the agreement the parties can contract with respect to:

  • Their property rights and obligations including their rights to manage and control property.
  • Disposition of property upon break-up, death, or the occurrence or nonoccurrence of any other event
  • Making of a will, trust, or other arrangement to carry out the provisions of the agreement.
  • Any other matter not in violation of public policy or a criminal statute.

If you are contemplating a cohabitation agreement, contact an experienced family law lawyer. Anthem Divorce Lawyers are an experienced team. We serve clients all over the Las Vegas area. Contact us today for a consultation.

What Is a Domestic Partnership?

In 2009, Nevada passed the Nevada Domestic Partnership Act. NRS 122A.200 provides in part that domestic partners have “the same rights, protections and benefits" as are granted to and imposed upon spouses. There are some exceptions to the rights of domestic partners.

How Do Parties Enter Into a Domestic Partnership?

Under NRS 122A.100, parties must register their domestic partnership with the Nevada Secretary of State. To be valid, the two persons must complete the required forms declaring that they:

  • Have chosen to share one another’s lives in an intimate and committed relationship of mutual caring.
  • Desire of their own free will to enter into a domestic partnership.

To be eligible to register both persons must furnish proof to the Office of the Secretary of State that:

  • Both persons have a common residence.
  • Neither person is married or a member of another domestic partnership.
  • The two persons are not related by blood in a way that would prevent them from being married to each other in Nevada.
  • Both persons are at least 18 years of age.
  • Both persons are competent to consent to the domestic partnership.

If you have questions about your domestic partnership, contact an experienced lawyer today.

What Is Common-Law Marriage?

A common-law marriage is a marriage that takes legal effect without a license or ceremony. A limited number of states allow common-law marriage in some form, either by statute or case law. A state that does not recognize common-law marriage will still recognize a validly-entered common-law marriage from another state. Typically a common-law marriage occurs when a couple:

  • Lives together as spouses for a certain period of time.
  • Intends to be married.
  • Represents themselves to the public as a married couple.

Does Nevada Recognize Common-Law Marriage?

Only common-law marriages entered into before March 29, 1943 are valid in Nevada. NRS 122.010 provides as follows:

  1. Marriage, so far as its validity in law is concerned, is a civil contract, to which the consent of the parties capable in law of contracting is essential. Consent alone will not constitute marriage; it must be followed by solemnization as authorized and provided by this chapter.
  2. The provisions of subsection 1 requiring solemnization shall not invalidate any marriage contract in effect prior to March 29, 1943, to which the consent only of the parties capable in law of contracting the contract was essential.

If you entered into a common-law marriage in another state and have questions about its recognition in Nevada, contact an experienced family law lawyer.

Las Vegas Divorce Lawyers

Relationships are complex and issues can arise for couples seeking protection after a break-up. An experienced lawyer can help you understand your rights and advocate your position. Anthem Divorce Lawyers have experience with palimony and cohabitation in Nevada. Our office is Henderson, Nevada and we serve clients all over the Las Vegas area. Contact us today for a consultation.