Non-Marital Cohabitation

When a couple chooses to live together without getting married, such an arrangement is called cohabitation. Many California couples chose not to marry, but as couples, they also enter into the same contractual and financial arrangements. They do not want to take the obligations and commitments implied by marriage, however, they have the same level of emotional devotion and intimacy, but they simply choose not to marry or have been legally prohibited from marrying for different reasons.

We are well-versed in every field of family law that includes the handling of non-marital cohabitation matters. When it relates to their property, we are committed to meeting with clients to fully explain their rights, choices, and ultimate agreements with their partners. With simplicity, integrity, and dignity, we take the time to communicate our information and help in protecting the interests of our clients.

Family Disputes California

Understanding Co-Habitation

The law describes cohabitation as living together, but without the obligation of marriage. Bear in mind that cohabiting doesn’t mean that your ex often stays over with his or her significant other, or spends a holiday. It doesn’t mean sharing expenses between your ex and a roommate. Romance plus living together is required for cohabiting.


What is Palimony?

Palimony is a form of financial support that is available to individuals who have never been married but have lived together as a couple before and are now separated. This form of support is assessed separately from child support and alimony. Unmarried couples live together commonly. In most circumstances, as a couple, unmarried couples purchase property together. If such a couple breaks up, they can try to divide their properties owned by each other and in the process experience disputes.

Understanding Marvin Rights and Defenses

Although marriage under common law is not recognized in California, there can be community property rights for unmarried people who live together and have a relationship over some time.

In the 1976 California landmark case of Marvin v. Marvin, Palimony was developed. Famous actor Marvin Lee’s long-time girlfriend, Michelle Triola, sued the actor for financial assistance. Ms. Triola requested financial compensation similar to the alimony and community property that is received in California by married couples. The court found that in the absence of an express agreement, courts can look at a variety of other remedies to reasonably divide the property. The California Supreme Court also acknowledged that California still recognizes contracts made between spouses outside of marriage despite the abolition of common law marriage by the state in 1896. General contract rules are also applicable, and the party attempting to enforce a contract must prove legally that a valid contract had been made.

The right of a non-marital spouse to monetary support or property in a Palimony or Marvin Claim is based on an expressed or implied contract, or some other reasonable and legal ground for the claim. In addition to a divorce, whether the couple lived together for an extended period or acquired several properties while living together prior to their marriage, a Marvin Claim can be filed.

Basic Requirements

If both partners agree to the relationship, at the conclusion of the relationship, a non-marital partner may collect support and/or property. Non-marital partners can, even without express agreement (written or oral), be able to obtain support and/or property in certain circumstances. For example, assume there was an oral agreement between the parties that the household would be controlled by one person and the household would be financially supported by the other. The non-financially-contributing partner will make a demand for support from the financially-contributing partner.

There are several ways to show financial dependence on an oral agreement or other arrangements. That may include rights or accounts for shared property. An enforceable Marvin action claim does not depend exclusively on the provision of sexual services under California law, which is illegal in itself.

Filing a Palimony Case

Since it is not a family law matter, a Marvin claim must be made as a separate civil action. The petition must be filed with the court in which they seek to enforce their claim to begin a palimony case. This court will most likely be located in the last location where the couple lived as a couple together. However, as determined by fairness and other procedural laws, other courts may also be selected as an acceptable venue.

Marvin Case Defenses

Marvin cases are subject to all the defenses that are commonly available in contract actions, plus a few (such as the “meretricious” consideration defense) that are uniquely applicable to Marvin claims.

Defenses may include the expiry of the statute of limitations, meretricious consideration (if the contract is inseparable from sexual acts) and other provisions of the contract that may be contrary to public policy, defenses based on the state in which the contract was signed, vagueness, lack of mutuality, or violation of the agreement by the complainant. Furthermore, there are reasonable defenses that can apply, including the defense of “unclean hands,” and there is also a presumption in support of the owner of the property’s legal title.

It is crucial to have someone by your side to help guide you through the process, whether you are attempting to assert a Marvin claim or defending against a Marvin claim. With a proven record of managing Marvin’s actions, our attorneys shall assist you in the best possible manner when defending your rights.

Non-Marital Cohabitation Agreements

If you do not intend to get married and are living with your partner, it might be worthwhile to consider entering into a written cohabitation agreement to make clear the present and future support intended or not intended.  

In the event of the relationship’s breakup, even though you have discussed with your partner about your arrangements, intentions, and aspirations, it will be subject to challenge. Our qualified family law attorney in California will help greatly in writing up and, with your signatures, putting into legal effect a cohabitation agreement that puts the understanding that you and your partner share in terms of income, property, and, if necessary, child support and custody in absolutely clear terms.

Contact a Family Law Attorney for Non-Marital Cohabitation matters

If you’re a cohabiting unmarried couple, you’re not alone. Contact our Family Law Attorney in California to handle your non-marital cohabitation matters.