What Is a Marvin Claim?


Pasadena family law lawyers want you to know that you don't necessarily need to be legally married in order to receive financial support from your partner. Filing a Marvin claim can result in the court awarding what is often called “palimony” to an unmarried person after his or her relationship has ended.

A Marvin claim gets its name from a 1976 California Supreme Court decision known as Marvin v. Marvin 18 Cal.3d 660 [134 Cal.Rptr. 815, 557 P.2d 106]. The case was the first to affirm that partners who are not married have the right to enforce an expressed or implied agreement for property sharing if they end up separating. They do not have the same automatic rights as a legally married spouse, but can win support if they can prove a contract gives them a basis for the claim.

To evaluate a Marvin claim, the court will look at factors such as how long the parties lived together, if one of the parties was providing financial support while the other was attending to homemaking and/or childcare duties, and if the parties jointly contributed towards the purchase of property. If the parties worked together in a business, the relative contributions of each party would also be considered in determining if a support claim is founded. Contributions that allowed one person to attend school to boost his or her earning potential will also be given careful consideration.

Marvin claims are most often used when a couple was living together and acting in a way that would be similar to a legally married couple. In Taylor v. Fields (1986) 178 Cal.App.3d 653 [224 Cal.Rptr. 186], the plaintiff, Taylor, was unsuccessful in her support request even though she'd had a relationship with a married man for 42 years. She sued his widow after his passing, claiming that he had agreed to take care of her financially. The court found that she had no relationship that fell within Marvin principles because she never lived with her lover.

Based on past cases, Marvin claims are most likely to be successful if the couple was in a cohabitating relationship for a significant amount of time, there is a large income discrepancy between the parties, and the person seeking support can prove that he or she sacrificed potential earnings in order to do what was necessary for his or her partner’s career advancement.

How Can We Help?

If you have questions about whether or not you’re eligible to file a Marvin claim, please call our office at (626) 683-8113 or email us at info@PasadenaLawOffice.com. Our Pasadena family law attorneys are eager to help you protect your legal rights.