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Sesame Street's "Gordon" Loses New Jersey Palimony Dispute

Roscoe Orman, who played "Gordon" on Sesame Street from 1974 to 2012, has lost a palimony battle with the mother of his four children.

Orman, 71, and Sharon Joiner-Orman, 61, were together for 39 years before splitting up in 2010. Orman married another woman two years later.

Joiner-Orman claimed that Orman made her an unwritten promise to support her for the rest of her life. Facing eviction from the four-bedroom home she once shared with Orman in Montclair, New Jersey, Joiner-Orman sued Orman, saying that she had put aside her own professional career while he became a regular on Sesame Street.

Newark Superior Court Judge Ned Rosenberg agreed with Joiner-Orman and said that Orman must continue to pay palimony of $3,600 per month even though the unmarried couple never had anything in writing to document the alleged commitment. Orman stopped paying this support when he married.

Judge Rosenberg wrote:

The court finds [Joiner-Orman] has fully performed her end of the bargain (to put it tersely). In addition, there is no way to qualify the value of the services plaintiff provided over the course of 39 years much less the value of foregone educational and work related opportunities. What is more, [Orman] does not deny the agreement and even acknowledged the obligation by deeds and words.

Orman dedicated his Sesame Street memoir to Joiner-Orman, describing her as his "wife."

Orman's attorney has promised to appeal the decision, pointing out that a 2010 amendment to New Jersey law on the Statute of Frauds requires that palimony agreements be made in writing under the advice of attorneys.

The New Jersey State Bar Association opposed the amendment because it was thought to be unfair to couples who spent many years together but had not put a support agreement into writing.

If you have questions about palimony or any other family law issue, contact an experienced family law attorney at the New Jersey Law Offices of Greenberg, Walden & Grossman, LLC.

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