Tennis legend Martina Navratilova’s ex-partner can’t get access to half of her assets as Florida doesn’t recognize same-sex relationships. So Toni Layton is trying a novel approach, contending that their partnership was akin to a business relationship, therefore all monies earned in that joint business must be split.
Experts say the lawsuit could set a precedent for same-sex couples. “The case could have very broad implications,” said Bruce Carolan, a visiting professor with the Stetson University College of Law and an expert in business partnership law. Rafool said Florida’s “archaic laws” regarding same-sex couples forced him to be creative. “In the law, that’s what you have to do in Florida in order to receive fair compensation,” said Rafool, a Coral Gables attorney who has represented high-profile divorce clients, including Linda Bollea, former wife of professional wrestler Terry “Hulk Hogan” Bollea. Navratilova is not commenting on the case. She sold her residence on Casey Key last year and no longer lives in Sarasota County, according to her publicist. “We’re taking the position this is a private matter and we’re not going to be making any statements,” said Navratilova’s lawyer, Barry Greenberg. But according to legal documents filed by Greenberg, the case is a “thinly disguised action for palimony” and baseless because “neither gay marriage nor a cause of action for palimony is recognized by the State of Florida.”
Navratilova settled a palimony suit brought by her previous partner in 1991.