By: Martin M. Shenkman, CPA, MBA, JD

If a non-married partner dies or terminates the relationship, the other member of the partnership may be left without any basis for economic support. In the context of a marriage that dissolves the ex-spouse can sue for support (alimony) and a distribution of property. The non-marital partner may attempt under state law to sue for "palimony", analogous to alimony. In evaluating the appropriateness of such a payment the courts may consider a range of factors including concepts such as the value of services which the aggrieved partner provided (quantum meruit), whether some of the assets taken by the the other former partner belong in part to the aggrieved partner (constructive trust), whether there was an express or implied arrangement between the partners and more. To avoid many of the uncertainties of such a claim, partners should give careful thought to preparing and signing a living together agreement to address their financial and other arrangements in the event the partnership ends.

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