Marvin Actions & Palimony

Understanding Property and Palimony Law for Cohabitating Partners

The term Marvin Action refers to civil court actions brought by individuals who have been cohabitating with a partner, but were never married. This term comes from the landmark Marvin v. Marvin, California Supreme Court Opinion. This is a 1976 case that involved a woman, Michelle Marvin, who was seeking support payments (or “palimony”) and half of the property acquired during her lengthy relationship with live-in partner and actor Lee Marvin after their separation.

The 1976 California Supreme Court decision in Marvin v. Marvin stated that:

“Non-marital partners have the right to enforce express or implied agreements for support or property sharing in the event of separation.”

Express or implied agreements between same-sex couples are just as enforceable as those between Marvin claimants of opposite sex. The judge or jury focuses on whether there in fact was an agreement or agreements supported by lawful consideration and what the terms of such agreements are. The gender or sexual orientation of the claimants is not relevant.

Filing a Claim

A Marvin claim is not a family law matter. Thus, it must be filed as a civil action in civil court.

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Evaluating a Claim

The cost to bring a civil court action through trial is considerable and similar to the remedies afforded to married couples in family court.

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