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Want Palimony in NJ?? Get it in Writing.

On January 18, 2010 departing NJ Governor Jon Corzine signed into law bill S2091, which mandates that any palimony agreement must be in writing and with the advice of independent counsel for both parties.  Palimony is the common term for a promise of support by one person to another in a relationship where the parties are not married to each other. This law aims to overturn several court cases which established even implied oral support promises could be enforceable.

Previously, the NJ Supreme Court had established the concept of palimony.  In Devaney v. L’Esperance, 195 N.J. 247 (2008) and in re Estate of Roccamonte, 174 N.J. 381 (2002), the New Jersey Supreme Court upheld the concept of palimony agreements between two unmarried cohabitants.  In Devaney, the court held that “cohabitation is not an essential requirement for a cause of action for palimony, but a marital-type relationship is required.”  In Roccamonte, the court held that an implied promise of support for life is enforceable against the promisor’s (cohabitant’s) estate.  Those decisions are consistent with the court’s prior decision in Kozlowski v. Kozlowski, 80 N.J. 378 (1979), which said a promise of lifetime support by one cohabitant to another in a marital-like relationship would be enforced, if one of the partners was induced to cohabit by the promise.  The court stated the right to such support is found in contract principles and that the contract may be either express or implied.

The takeaway:  if you want palimony in NJ, get it in writing and have it reviewed by your attorney.

Tips on Making Foreclosure Mediation Productive

I have written previously about how homeowners and lenders can use the court’s foreclosure mediation program to help resolve a foreclosure matter.  Here are a few tips on how homeowners can use the mediation process more effectively:

  • Get into the process as early as possible.  Waiting until the morning of the sheriff’s sale is probably too late.  Since the bank will not accept payments while the loan is in arrears, the amount in arrears can drastically increase.  If the homeowner is not saving this money, they will be unable to address the arrears, making a modification impossible.
  • Be prepared.  Have all of the documents which have been requested by the bank.  You are trying to prove you are eligible for a loan modification of some sort.  Not having the proper documentation will not help your case.
  • Show the lender you can be responsible in trial payments.  Banks will often set up a trial payment plan so that the homeowner can prove financial responsibility to the bank.  Make sure you can make the payments as agreed to.  If you don’t, you will be unlikely to ever be given another chance.  Send any payments by a service which can be tracked (i.e. certified mail, priority mail, Fedex, etc.).
  • Be aware that not all homeowners will be able to save their homes.  There are other alternatives for those homeowners rather than going through foreclosure.  The lender may allow you to stay in the home through the end of the school year.  They may be willing to offer cash for the keys.

Remember, the mediation is your one chance to get the bank to discuss solutions for you.  Take advantage of that moment.