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Palimony and Marvin claims vs. alimony and divorce

by Dinnebier & Demmerle on January 5, 2015

Palimony and Marvin claims vs. alimony and divorceIn a previous post the subject of common law marriage and its recognition or denial by California courts was addressed. How do California courts regard the division of financial assets and property when a cohabitating, but not legally married, couple end their relationship? What is either spouse entitled to by law, especially in regards to individuals with high net worth?

This area of law carries the name of “palimony” based on the conjunction of “pal” (as in friend) and “alimony”. Palimony suits are civil, not family, court matters in California, in which the plaintiff may claim a share of financial assets and real property from the defendant (the other member of the couple). Yet while alimony is a legal aspect supported by legal divorce and its relevant statutes, palimony is not protected, mandated or guaranteed by any law in California. If, however, a contract exists between the couple and can be established to the satisfaction of the court, that contract, as regarding the settlement of assets between the couple, may result in the awarding of palimony to the plaintiff.

There have been high profile palimony suits involving famous athletes, actors, musicians and other high net worth celebrities. The term “palimony” itself was coined in the 1970’s based on the landmark California case Marvin v. Marvin, involving the actor Lee Marvin. The term “Marvin claim” is synonymous with palimony in civil court actions. The original case will be discussed in a subsequent post.

Please keep in mind 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, Marvin claims, 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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