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Breach of Domestic Partnership

In a decision dated December 11, 2014, in the matter of Rodman v. Schnell, Index No. 12860/14, Supreme Court, Suffolk County (Hon. A. Tarantino, Jr.) Thomas Weiss & Associates, P.C. represented the Plaintiff. Rodman and Schnell were not married but were in a domestic partnership from 2001 until June 2013.
The Defendant sought to dismiss the complaint based on the fact that the plaintiff and defendant were never married. The Defendant argued that common-law marriage does not exist in New York State and therefore the complaint had to be dismissed.

In denying the Defendant’s motion, the Court recognized the intricate involvement and financial support that Schnell provided Rodman over the past 12 years. The Court held that generally, the state may not imply an agreement between unmarried domestic partners based on the nature of their relations. However, unmarried couples living together are free to contract with each other in relation to personal services, including domestic or “housewifey” services, and there is no requirement that such a contract be in writing.

In this unique scenario, our firm also cross-moved for temporary support. The Court granted our relief.

Matrimonial Law in Long Island

The Court stated that it can consider the substantial evidence submitted by Rodman demonstrating the 12 years of financial support apparently provided to Rodman by Schnell in accordance with the agreement. The Court held that this being a contract action, and not a family law matter as Defendant asserted, the Court considers Rodman’s request for temporary support a misnomer and considers it a plea for a temporary restraining order to prevent further damage. In light of the significant financial advantage Schnell has over Rodman, it would be unjust for Rodman to endure the termination of necessary utilities, etc., during the pendency of the actions.

The Court directed the Defendant to pay all arrears from June 2013 for the carrying charges on the premises (light, electric, water, telephone, natural/propane gas, property taxes, homeowners insurance and major structural repairs) and directed him to continue making those payments during the pendency of the action.