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Martina Navratilova and Documenting Your Palimony Case


It is crucial to have evidence supporting the existence of a long-term committed relationship in a palimony suit. Even more, a plaintiff in a palimony suit needs to evidence the existence of a contract, whether written, oral or implied in law or fact that describes the terms of support or property division in the situation where the parties split up. There is no credit for simply having a relationship. The case of Judy Nelson v. Martina Navratilova exemplifies this fact.


During 1982, Judy Nelson met global tennis champion Martina Navratilova when her eleven-year-old son Eddie was carrying tennis balls for Martina.


For the next two years Judy and Martina maintained contact via correspondence. Slowly, they developed a relationship. Subsequently, in 1984, Judy and Martina exchanged rings in a church in a ceremony akin to a conventional wedding.


The parties were determined to be joined in whatever decisions they made or ideas they might try, and agreed they would be equal in division of both losses and gains. They executed a document stating these terms and their agreement was videotaped. Judy then took charge of their household in every respect, made sure Martina had sports ready food and clothing, celebrated victories and consoled her in defeats.


Then in 1991 Martina ended their relationship. Unable to agree to a financial settlement, Judy sued Martina for $7.5 million using a palimony or Marvin action claim, citing the original partnership documents. The parties avoided a courtroom battle and settled for a rumored $3.5 million.


What is the upshot? Document any palimony agreement. Written agreements are great but rare. Make sure to support oral or implied agreements with texts, emails, greeting cards and a narrative of how an agreement was supported by conduct like quitting one’s job to support the other’s career, purchasing property together or having joint accounts. Judy’s approach was brilliant and she got a settlement that was substantial given that she avoided the cost and public exposure that would have come with a trial.


If you need help making sense of and documenting your palimony case, schedule a free initial consultation with the Law Offices of Jane Migachyov NOW.