Common Law Marriage in California? (Marvin Actions)

Common Law Marriage Marvin Claims

Common law marriage is not recognized in California. However, unmarried parties who live together and have a relationship over long a period of time may have rights to financial support and property. These unmarried parties may be able to enforce promises of support or property rights through a civil court action rather than in family court.

These “cohabitation” actions are often called Marvin claims named after the landmark case involving the late actor Lee Marvin. His long-term girlfriend Michelle Triola sued him for financial support and assets accumulated throughout their long-term relationship.

Before the Marvin case, California courts struggled with how to analyze relationships of married parties who live together. Even though the Supreme Court in Marvin expressly declined to treat unmarried cohabitants like married persons, the Court stated that agreements (including oral contracts) between unmarried partners should be enforced like any contract between unmarried people.

If you believe you may have a Marvin claim please do not hesitate to contact our firm. Unlike regular family law matters, these actions must be filed on a timely basis or your right to recover may forever be lost.


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