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lwpat, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 25386
Experience:  Practicing family law attorney
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My daugter has lived with a man for 20 years. They have a

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My daugter has lived with a man for 20 years. They have a 19 year old son together. She has worked on and off during the 20 year relationship, and provided her share of the family unity. She recently left the relationship permanently. Everything is in his name except for her automobile. He is self employed in a cabinet business, and the house is in his name. Is she entitled to anything from this common law marriage situation in the state of California?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  lwpat replied 4 years ago.
Thank you for your question and for using JA. Please click accept so I will receive credit from JA for my time.

California does not recognize a common law marriage. However she may have what is called a "palimony" cause of action. She must prove that she lived with her boyfriend for an extended amount of time and that he promised to take care of her financially for the rest of her life. She must also prove the existence of an agreement, stating such. She would need to prove that she helped to pay for the his education, assisted in the business or stayed at home to raise his child.

In Marvin v. Marvin (1976) 18 Cal.3d 660, 666 [134 Cal. Rptr. 815, 557 P.2d 106], Michelle brought an action against Lee, alleging the parties had lived together for six years and had agreed he would support her for life. The trial court granted judgment on the pleadings for defendant.

The Supreme Court reversed, holding the complaint stated a cause of action for breach of an express contract. It stated: "[W]e base our opinion on the principle that adults who voluntarily live together and engage in sexual relations are nonetheless as competent as any other persons to contract respecting their earnings and property rights.... So long as the agreement does not rest upon illicit meretricious consideration, the parties may order their economic affairs as they choose, ..." (Marvin, supra, 18 Cal.3d at p. 674, italics added.)


Marvin states homemaking services are lawful consideration for an agreement relating to earnings, property or expenses. (Marvin, supra, 18 Cal.3d at p. 670, fn. 5; Whorton v. Dillingham (1988) 202 Cal. App.3d 447, 455, fn. 5 [248 Cal. Rptr. 405].) Thus, Michelle Marvin was able to allege lawful consideration based on her services as a "`homemaker, housekeeper and cook,'" which services were severable from the sexual aspect of the relationship. (Marvin, supra, at pp. 666, 670-672.)

Based on your post she does have a Marvin claim for palimony and also an equitable division of the property acquired while they were together. She will need an attorney.
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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

At what point in time did the Marvin claim for palimony and equitable division of the property acquired while they were together need to be in writing? Is it too late to do it now

Expert:  lwpat replied 4 years ago.
He is not going to put it in writing now. However, to be enforceable an agreement does not necessarily have to be in writing. Here she has an excellent claim that there was an "implied" agreement.
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