California law protects parties who have made agreements that create mutual and financial dependency in a relationship. Although California does not recognize common law marriage, unmarried parties who live together and have a relationship for a long time may have rights to financial support and property. Unmarried couples can enforce promises of support or property rights by filing a claim in civil court rather than in family court.
These “cohabitation” actions are typically referred to as Marvin claims. The phrase “Marvin claim” comes from the palimony breakup of actor Lee Marvin and long-term girlfriend Michelle Triola. It caught on in the 1970s, when the unmarried, less wealthy, non-celebrity girlfriend filed a claim for a measure of the couple’s assets after they broke up. The California Supreme Court decided Marvin v. Marvin in 1976, ruling that non-marital partners have the right to enforce expressed or implied agreements for support or property sharing in the event of a break up.
Nature of a Marvin Claim or Palimony
In a palimony or Marvin claim, the non-marital partner’s right to financial support or property depends upon an expressed or implied contract, or any other fair and legal basis for the claim. If you are planning to seek a Marvin claim or palimony, you should consider some important issues, such as:
- How long you lived together
- Whether one of you supported the other
- Whether both of you contributed towards the purchase of any property
- Whether one of you performed valuable services for the other
- Whether one of you performed valuable services for the other’s company or employer
- Whether you both worked together to create or enhance anything of value
- Whether you have any expressed or implied agreement regarding property sharing or support
You should consider these issues carefully with your Central Valley palimony attorney before filing a Marvin claim.
Defending a Marvin Claim
Since a Marvin claim or palimony is basically a contract claim, it is also subject to all defenses which are generally available in contract actions – in addition to a few that are specifically applicable to these claims. Some common defenses to Marvin claims include:
- Expiration of statute of limitations
- Meretricious consideration (if sexual acts form an inseparable part of the contract) and other parts of the contract which may be contradictory to public policy
- Defenses based on the state in which the contract was made
- Vagueness of the contract
- Lack of mutuality
- Plaintiff’s breach of the agreement
In addition to these defenses, equitable defense may also apply, such as the defense of “unclean hands and the presumption in favor of the owner of legal title for real property.
Whether you are seeking a Marvin claim or defending against a Marvin claim, it is important that you hire a Central Valley palimony attorney who specifically deals with these types of claims. An experienced attorney can protect your legal rights and help you get the outcome that you deserve.
Call an Experienced Central Valley Palimony Attorney
For more information about palimony or to schedule a complimentary consultation with Central Valley palimony attorney Gurjit Srai, please call (209) 323-5558 or (559) 449-1447, or complete our online form.