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Common Law Marriage & Palimony

It is a common belief that an unmarried couple that lives together for a certain period of time will have entered into a common law marriage. A common law marriage is when a couple is legally considered to be married with all of benefits of a regular marriage, despite the fact that no ceremony was ever held. These types of marriages are recognized in a handful of states, but as our Santa Rosa family law attorney often advises, California is not one of those states.
Lee Marvin.jpgHowever, even though the state of California does not recognize the creation of common law marriages , this does not mean those facing the end of an unmarried cohabitation are left without any legal remedy if the correct steps were taken in advance.
Palimony and “Marvin Claims”
Palimony is the idea that financial assets and property can be divided upon the ending of a cohabitation where the couple was never married. The idea of palimony was front and center in the landmark California case of Marvin vs. Marvin, which popularized the phrase “Marvin Claim”. In this case, actor Lee Marvin was taken to court by his ex-girlfriend Michelle Triola. Triola claimed that in exchange for her promise to give up her acting career and take care of Marvin during their cohabitation, Marvin would take financial care of her for the rest of her life. The agreement was said to be oral, and the court found that an oral agreement was insufficient for any division of financial assets and property. Triola lost her case and left the relationship with only the financial assets and property she entered it with.
Under the decision of this case it was determined that in order for a division of financial assets and property to be made there needs to be clear evidence of a promise for such a division.
Clear Evidence of a Division Agreement
It is important to put any agreement regarding the division of finances and property in writing if you are engaging in an unmarried living arrangement, as oral agreements are often found by courts to be insufficient evidence. Without one you will face the same harsh consequence as Triola did, and leave the relationship only with what you entered it with. This type of document can be created with the help of an experienced family law attorney. With such a document in place your rights will be adequately protected if you are in an unmarried cohabitation that ends.
Getting Legal Help in Northern California
If you are facing the end of such a relationship it is important to seek the help of a California family law attorney as this is a very unique area of the law. The Beck Law Firm can help determine if you are facing a family law issue or a contract issue in your unique case, and thus whether palimony is a relevant concern. The lawyers of the Beck Law Firm can advocate for your rights, and help you reach the outcome that you desire.
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Santa Rosa Mediation & Divorce

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