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Live-in partner walks away with nothing

A New York couple never married, but they dated for 13 years, lived together and had a daughter. During that time, the man purchased property in Manhattan and in the Hamptons, and told the woman that the places were “their” homes. The woman claimed the man referred to the properties as “theirs” and to her as his “business partner” because she worked at the company he had founded. She also claimed he said things such as, “I will always take care of you,” and “What’s mine is yours, what’s yours is mine, it doesn’t make a difference,” and “Everything that we put in, we will enjoy together; we’re working so hard for our family.”

The woman said that when she became pregnant again, the man persuaded her to have an abortion and told her that “If you don’t have the baby I will always be there for you and will always take care of you.”

When the couple broke up, the man refused to share any portion of the property in his name, and the woman sued. The court ruled that the man’s promises that that he would support her and share his property were not legally binding. (The woman could, however, seek child support.)

Although the woman put in long hours at the man’s company, helped renovate and decorate the family home, and cared for the couple’s daughter and the man’s children from prior relationships, the court said this did not create a legal obligation. The woman’s “naïve belief” did not “transform the [man’s] statements to her over the years into an enforceable promise,” the court said.

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