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Devaney v. L'Esperance

Supreme Court of New Jersey
949 A.2d 743 (N.J. 2008)


Helen Devaney (plaintiff) and Francis L’Esperance, Jr. (defendant) were involved in a 20-year romantic relationship. For the entirety of the relationship, Francis was married to another woman. Over the 20-year relationship, Francis promised Helen that he would divorce his wife and father a child with her. Francis paid some of Helen’s bills and gave her a monthly stipend. Francis also paid for Helen’s college education and purchased a condominium for her to live in. However, Francis and Helen never cohabitated. Francis ended the relationship with Helen and filed an action to have her ejected from the condominium. The trial court granted Francis’s request, and the trial court’s decision was affirmed on appeal. Helen then filed a complaint for palimony, which is the division of assets and real property on the termination of a personal co-habitation relationship in which the parties involved are not legally married. A bench trial was held before a family judge. The family judge denied Helen’s complaint. The trial judge agreed and found that Helen and Francis’s relationship was nothing more than a dating relationship. The trial judge considered the lack of cohabitation as a factor in making the determination. Helen appealed. The appellate division affirmed the trial court’s ruling and found that cohabitation is a necessary element for a palimony action. Helen filed another appeal.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Wallace, J.)

Concurrence (Rivera-Soto, J.)

Concurrence (Long, J.)

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