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What is a Marvin Action?

Our readers who were around back in the 1970s may remember a case that made headlines, not to mention legal history. It also introduced the word “palimony” into the lexicon.

Thanks to a 1976 California Supreme Court ruling, Michelle Triola Marvin was allowed to sue for financial support from her long-time boyfriend, actor Lee Marvin, after the two broke up. They had never married. Triola Marvin, however, asserted that she had given up her career as a singer and that the actor had promised to support her financially. She got a six-figure settlement several years later, although it was far less than she had sought.

Today, because of the ruling in the Marvin case, unmarried people in California who have shared a residence and a long-term relationship may be entitled to assets, property and financial support from their partner when the relationship ends. Under California law, the couple need not have had a written agreement. An oral agreement may be enforceable, just as it can be in cases not involving romantic partners.

Interestingly, Michelle Triola Marvin went on to another long-term, non-marital relationship with entertainment legend Dick Van Dyke that lasted the remainder of her life. That relationship, according to Marvin, included a written contract.

When one of the parties seeks financial support and/or assets from a former partner, it is called a “Marvin action” or “Marvin claim.” These claims are handled in civil court rather than family court.

Even though Marvin claims aren’t considered family law matters, the Schoenberg Family Law Group, P.C., helps Californians file as well as defend them. We have more than a quarter-century experience providing assertive, thorough representation for our clients, regardless of which side of the claim they are on.

We also know that, as with a divorce, while the issues may revolve around money and assets, emotions can run high. Call or contact us to find out how we can help you.