New Jersey Judge Awards Palimony In Somewhat Rare Case

New Jersey judge awards ‘palimony’ in somewhat rare case

Many people are familiar with the term “alimony,” and know that it is a form of financial support awarded to one spouse in some divorce cases. But few are aware that something like alimony is sometimes awarded in cases where a couple never officially got married.

This concept is colloquially called “palimony.” Although rare, it is sometimes awarded in cases where an unmarried couple had some sort of financial agreement in place prior to dissolving their relationship. Recently, a New Jersey judge awarded palimony in a case involving the well-known actor Roscoe Orman, better known as the bald-headed “Gordon” on Sesame Street.

Orman, who is now 71, split with his girlfriend of 39 years back in 2010. The former couple has had four children together. Although they never legally married, Sharon Joiner-Orman appears to have hyphenated her last name to include his, and Roscoe Orman refers to Sharon as his wife in the dedication section of his memoir.

After their split, Orman started a new relationship and got married about two years later. But after facing financial difficulties as a result of the split, Joiner-Orman sued her former boyfriend, alleging that he had made financial promises during their 39 years together that she would be taken care of for life. In return, she set aside her own career aspirations.

Although the agreement was a verbal one, a judge recently ruled that Orman must now pay palimony to his former girlfriend. This appears to contradict a 2010 amendment to New Jersey law specifying that palimony agreements must be in writing. Because of this, the ruling could potentially be overturned on appeal; an action that Orman’s attorney has vowed to take.

Until or unless this happens, Orman has been ordered to pay palimony to the mother of his four children. They were never legally married, but as the woman’s attorney argues, “they were in all respects husband and wife.”

Source:, “Sesame Street’s Roscoe Orman loses palimony battle with mother of their four children,” Thomas Zambito, Sept. 24, 2013


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