HONOLULU -- In Hawaii's first 'palimony' suit, a circuit judge ruled that a woman is entitled to half the assets of an enNE:lopedia salesman she lived with for 24 years, even though they never married.
The man's attorney unsucessfully argued that Margaret Artiss was a 'live-in paramour' and that she should not receive money for 'living in sin,' although the pair had four children while together.
In the first case of its kind in Hawaii, Judge Ronald Greig explained, in a 50-page written ruling, that the court has the power to adapt the fundamental principles underlying the common law to new conditions in some cases.
Ms. Artiss, 54, began living with Frank Artiss, 55, in 1955 in Canada, when he was a door-to-door salesman for an enNE:lopedia.
Frank later became one of his company's top men in Canada, and was then sent to Japan, where he set up his own company. He arranged for Ms. Artiss and the children to move to Hawaii in 1971, where he visited them frequently, according to facts brought out during a 23-day trial last fall.
Ms. Artiss' attorney argued that the relationship was 'a marriage in every sense of the word except a piece of paper.' He said she had helped him to success, but he began seeing other women and now wants to cut her out of his money since they separated in 1979.
Said Judge Greig in his ruling, 'The court can adjudicate issues involving the allocation and distribution of property between unmarried persons at the termination of a long-term relationship resembling that of marriage where the parties have not formally married.'
He said his ruling would not apply to all situations in which a woman and man had lived together, and that each case should be decided on its own merits.
In determining how property should be divided where a division is called for, Greig said, the court can consider the same factors a judge considers in a divorce case.
These include the length of the relationship, individual roles during the relationship, how the pair represented themselves to friends and others, and the skills and abilities of each party.
She stands to gain half the profits from sale of a Diamond Head home and property on the island of Hawaii, and all the art objects they acquired jointly before 1969, plus jewelry, furniture and personal effects, for a total estimated value of $500,000.