In a very interesting decision, the New Jersey’s highest Court has ruled that one can be sued for palimony even if there was no cohabitation with a companion. The case involves well-known laser eye pioneer Francis L’Esperance, 75, and his long relationship with Helen Devaney, 47. The Court essentially adopted a total circumstances test that eliminated cohabitation as a prerequisite for determining a “marital-type relationship.”
At issue was a 20-year relationship that Devaney insisted had every element of a marriage beyond a license and cohabitation. The other problem was L’Esperance appears not only to be a manipulator but an adulterer. He was married at the time.
The two met after Devaney went to work for L’Esperance. She was 23 and he was 51 in 1983. He told her that he would divorce his wife. During the seven years when she lived in the condo, they would see each other a few nights a week. She eventually became financially dependent upon him.
While dropping the cohabitation requirement, the Court rejected the argument that an unsuccessful effort to conceive a child with L’Esperance in 2003 “demonstrates that their relationship was sufficiently akin to a marriage.” Thus, they still agreed that the case should be dismissed for lack of evidence.
The case is Helen M. Devaney v. Francis A. L’Esperance, Jr.
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