Imagine being in a long-term relationship with a professional basketball player (who earns millions per year), on and off, for eight years. You weren't married, but you gave birth to two of his children and have been financially dependent on the NBA star. Suddenly, you realize his wandering eye has found a new love. He dumps you, leaving you cash-strapped. You shouldn't have too much trouble securing child support for your kids, but you also have to support yourself.
Well, if you live in Minnesota and have a written contract, you technically could sue your wealthy ex for palimony -- a legal claim similar to alimony but for unmarried couples. Most states don't have such provisions in their codes, but a Minnesota statute at least suggests a legal path for ex-partners to pursue a claim for support. As a practical matter, however, unmarried couples seldom have contracts in place before a sexual relationship or cohabitation begins. Without this agreement, Minnesota courts won't consider a palimony claim.
Basics of Cohabitation Agreements
Marriage is a legal contract between two individuals, who more or less agree to share property and take care of each other. When you decide to live with someone out of wedlock, whether or not you have children together, the parties aren't automatically covered by such terms. That's why some people living together choose to sign cohabitation agreements.
These agreements are legally binding contracts signed by both parties that really only take effect if the couple splits up, similar in scope and purpose to a prenuptial agreement. Terms addressed in a cohabitation agreement may include:
- Property accumulated during the relationship;
- Property acquired by gift or inheritance;
- "Separate" property acquired before the relationship;
- Living expenses; and
- Dispute resolution (such as agreeing to mediation or arbitration).
Minnesota Palimony Law at a Glance
If you're filing for palimony, you really don't want to be spending your time deciphering dense legal texts. That's why we've created the following summary of Minnesota palimony laws, free of legal jargon.
Minnesota Statutes Property and Property Interests, Chapter 500-515B:
|Requirements for Filing a Palimony Claim
In the event of a sexual or similarly intimate relationship, where the couple is living together out of wedlock but with a contract (entered into before cohabitation or sexual relations begin), this contract is enforceable with respect to financial claims if:
- The contract is written and signed by both parties; and
- Enforcement is sought (i.e. a claim is filed) after the relationship ends.
|Is Your Contract Enforceable?
Minnesota courts are without jurisdiction (and therefore will dismiss the case) in the event the written contract hasn't been signed by both parties.
|Is Common Law Marriage Recognized in Minnesota?
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Research the Law
- Minnesota Laws - Summaries of select Minnesota statutes spanning criminal, injury, family, small business, consumer, and other legal practice areas.
- Official State Codes - FindLaw's hosted versions of official state statutes and constitutions.
Minnesota Palimony Laws: Related Resources
Need to File for Palimony in Minnesota? An Attorney Can Help
Even if you were never married to the person with whom you lived, there may be circumstances where you're entitled to palimony after splitting up; but you need to have a written contract in place. If you need help determining the validity of your contract or need to file a claim, you should consider reaching out to a professional. An experienced Minnesota divorce attorney can help guide you in the right direction.