Do Domestic Partners Have Rights When They Break Up?

Do Domestic Partners Have Rights When They Break Up?

Domestic partners are partners you live with but are not legally married to. They are also known as non-marital partners – and non-marital partners are not limited to same-sex cases. Non-marital partners have the right to enforce expressed or implied agreements for support or property sharing in the event of a separation.

This rule came from a 1976 California Supreme Court decision known as Marvin v. Marvin .

The Marvin (Palimony) claim comes from the palimony breakup of actor Lee Marvin and long-term girlfriend Michelle Triola. It allows non-marital partners the right to enforce expressed or implied agreements for support or property sharing in the event of a separation. Most of the Marvin claims apply to property acquired during the period lived together.

Basically, alimony is court ordered spousal support that one spouse is ordered to pay to the other during and/or after getting divorced. Palimony provides alimony for unmarried cohabitating couples who break up. Winning a Marvin claim requires knowledge of how the law affects your domestic partnership. It is advised to seek legal advice if you are seeking a Marvin claim or trying to defend against it.

How to File a Marvin Claim

In Marvin Claim, a non-marital partner’s right to monetary support or property is dependent upon an expressed or implied contract. Marvin claims are filed not in family court, as divorces are, but in a civil action. The reason for this is that essentially it is a breach of contract suit. It is an allegation that an expressed or implied contract existed between the two partners.

On a special note, it is possible to file a Marvin Claim as part of your divorce. This normally happens if you lived together with your partner for an extended period of time or acquired assets while living together before you were married to each other.

Some basic issues to consider in evaluating a Marvin Claim include how long the parties live together, each partner’s contribution towards the purchase of any property and if one of the parties supports the other.

Marvin Claim Defenses 

If you are facing a break-up with a long-term partner that you lived with, there are some defenses you can claim. As with any civil claim Marvin claims have a statute of limitations. There is also a test of whether the partnership was a relationship. For example, if your relationship, especially the sexual part, was paid for then it was not really a relationship at all.

A consultation with an attorney can let you know what terms strengthen your claim or strengthen your defense against the claim. Although a family attorney can give you important legal advice on Marvin and file a claim in civil (not family court), unless it is part of a divorce petition that has or will filed in family court.