A same-sex divorce case involving alimony, palimony and an oral cohabitation agreement was recently decided by the Florida Court of Appeal. The case was captioned Armao v. McKenney. During the course of the parties’ relationship, the parties entered into an oral cohabitation agreement. The parties agreed that they would live together, work together, take care of each other emotionally and financially, provide for each other, and be a couple. They characterized their relationship as being: “just like a married couple.” They combined their assets, investments, income, and inheritances. They participated in a blessing ceremony. They held themselves out as a couple during their 46 year relationship.
The Defendant earned approximately $500,000.00 during the course of the relationship. He gave all his paychecks to the Plaintiff. The Defendant owned a home before the parties met. When the Defendant sold his home, he gave the proceeds to the Plaintiff. When the Defendant’s mother died, he gave his inheritance to the Plaintiff. In the Counterclaim, the Defendant sought half of the balances in all of the accounts held by the Plaintiff, representing one half of the parties’ combined assets.
The Florida Court of Appeal held that in a same-sex divorce, couples can be found to have entered into enforceable contracts that establish their rights and responsibilities toward each other. These agreements must be based upon lawful and valid consideration which is separate and apart from any agreement involving sexual relations. There is no requirement that these agreements be in writing.
Oral cohabitation and support agreements are subject to the basic requirements of contract law, including offer, acceptance, consideration and the specification of essential terms. The Court of Appeal found that the Defendant’s testimony was sufficiently specific as to the essential terms of an enforceable contract. The Defendant testified that the parties agreed that all of the parties’ assets, inheritances, investments, and income would be joined and used to pay the parties’ expenses. The Plaintiff and Defendant’s course of conduct also established the existence of a sufficiently definite agreement. During the parties’ long term relationship, they commingled their funds. The Court of Appeal found that the testimony, during the trial constituted sufficient evidence for the lower court to find an enforceable oral cohabitation agreement. Court of Appeal held that the evidence at trial supported an award which represented half of the value of the parties’ combined assets.
To speak with a Florida same-sex divorce, palimony/alimony attorney, contact Matthew Lane & Associates, P.A. at (561) 363-3400.