Palimony vs. Alimony

Couples in a committed relationship share both income and expenses. When they split up, everything falls apart. Sometimes, one partner needs financial assistance from the other to maintain a quality of life that became habitual while they were together.

One form of support is designed for couples who were once married, and this is known formally as spousal support. The other is designed for couples who never recognized their relationship via official channels. 

What is palimony?

Palimony is made for couples who were never married. The term is colloquial and was coined after a very public (and nasty) break-up between two unmarried people. Reporters combined the words pal and alimony, and palimony was born. 

What is alimony?

Alimony, or spousal support, is made for couples who end their relationship in divorce. Spousal support amounts are based on a variety of factors, such as these:

  • The number of children the couple shares
  • The length of the marriage 
  • The age of both people 
  • Expenses and assets 

What are the main differences between palimony and alimony?

Palimony and alimony are both forms of break-up support. Important differences between them exist. 




Legal basis in most states?



Transferable from one state to another?



Easy to claim?



Applicable to unmarried couples?



Applicable to married couples?



State rules regarding payment amounts?


Usually not 

Those differences involve the following:

  • Legal status: Many states have spousal support rules, including charts explaining how much one spouse should pay another. But some don't have similar requirements about palimony. 
  • Documentation: Married couples need little more than their certificate to prove their union is valid. Unmarried couples may struggle to point out how long they functioned as partners. 
  • Transferability: Most states recognize marriage and divorce. But if you have a palimony agreement and move, another state may not acknowledge your agreement. 
  • Payment amounts: While states may have rules dictating how much alimony (or spousal support) payments should be, they may not have similar rules about palimony. Your payment amounts can vary accordingly. 

Palimony and alimony can help you stay financially solvent when your relationship fails. Understanding whether you were legally married can help you determine which applies in your case. If you are confused about the rules in your state concerning spousal support, you can talk to a mediator or divorce attorney for guidance.



Palimony. Legal Information Institute. 
Alimony. Legal Information Institute.
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