Law School Case Brief
Levine v. Konvitz - 383 N.J. Super. 1, 890 A.2d 354 (Super. Ct. App. Div. 2006)
In order to establish a prima facie case for palimony, a plaintiff must present competent evidence showing: (1) that the parties cohabitated; (2) in a marriage-type relationship; (3) that, during this period of cohabitation, defendant promised plaintiff that he/she would support him/her for life; and (4) that this promise was made in exchange for valid consideration.
Plaintiff, Jeanette Levine, and defendant, Philip Konvitz, had an extramarital romantic relationship that spanned over 70 years. However, they never cohabited during the entire period of their relationship. Konvitz put Levine on his business payroll and also paid her and her daughter monthly "allowances." Due to his advanced age and declining health, Konvitz issued powers of attorney to his son and a friend who stopped the payments to Levine and her daughter. The son also prohibited Levine from visiting Konvitz at his home. Telephone contacts and other forms of communication became less frequent and eventually ceased. As Konvitz reached the end of his life, Levine initiated a palimony suit, seeking to enforce an alleged promise that he would support her for the rest of her life. The Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part, Essex County, denied her request for palimony. She appealed.
Did the Superior Court err in denying Levine of her request for palimony?
The appellate court held that a finding of cohabitation was an indispensable element of a cause of action for palimony, because it provided concrete proof that the paramour's devotion was significantly induced by a promise of support. Because the parties disregarded that indispensable element, the paramour was not entitled to palimony despite the length of the parties' relationship.
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