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How Marvin v. Marvin established palimony precedent

by Dinnebier & Demmerle on January 7, 2015

How Marvin v. Marvin established palimony precedentPrevious blog posts have addressed the interesting area of California law relating to common law marriage, contracts and claims between unmarried couples, palimony and Marvin claims and how they differ from legally granted alimony. These areas of legal interest evolved from the landmark California case of the 1970’s, Marvin v. Marvin.

The famous steely-eyed tough guy actor Lee Marvin was sued by Michelle Triola, with whom he had cohabitated for several years, for financial support that she claimed had been promised to her. The Supreme Court of California ruled that with no contract proven between the couple, the plaintiff was only entitled to what she had originally brought to the relationship, and no further financial assets from Mr. Marvin. On appeal, that ruling was upheld, and no “palimony” – as the new term was coined – would be granted to Ms. Triola. She had changed her name legally to Michelle Triola Martin, but that act was not enough to influence the court in her favor without the presence of that all-important contract.

The significance of this case cannot be emphasized enough. It set the precedent cited for many claims of financial reimbursement owed to an ex-partner who is not a legal spouse. Additionally, it may be noted that Marvin v. Marvin also contributed some iconic terminology such as “palimony” and “Marvin claims” to our cultural and legal vocabularies.

It must be noted again that the content of this blog is intended not as legal advice, but only for information and/or discussion purposes. Should you have questions or concerns about how California family law may apply to you, you may wish to consult a knowledgeable family law attorney. 

As Orange County’s premier family law specialists, the attorneys at Dinnebier & Demmerle can provide answers to your questions and concerns, clarify and establish your legal rights, and represent you in court. If you would like more information about palimony, contracts between unmarried couples or any other aspect of California family law, please call to set up a consultation. We’re ready to move forward when you are. Just contact us in Tustin at 714-838-1099.

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