Cohabitation (Marvin Actions) (Unmarried)

Can Cohabitation Result In Financial Liability To The Other Party?

Unmarried parties residing together may be impacted by various laws that relate to family law. Cohabiting in a romantic relationship subjects a person to the Domestic Violence Protection Act (DVPA), and cohabitation may create property rights from an explicit or implicit agreement or contract. Rights arising out of cohabiting are based on contract law, not family law.

What is a Cohabitation “Marvin” Case?

Cohabitation can lead to civil litigation in a “Marvin case.” The phrase “Marvin case” refers to an Appellate Court case between Michelle Triola Marvin and Lee Marvin, the actor, where she sought property and support.  Michelle did not prevail in her case, but with a different set of facts, one could prevail in certain aspects.  A Marvin case is very different than a divorce. A party does not have the benefit of the Family Code in a Marvin Action. These matters are essentially civil matters, and not tried in a divorce court. Attorney fees cannot be collected from the other party. The party seeking relief has the burden of proof on all issues.  Like in any civil case, the litigants are entitled to a jury.

Can Cohabitation Result in Parties Being Deemed to be Married?

California does not recognize common law marriage. There is no risk that cohabitation, for any length of time, will create marital property, marital rights, or a marriage itself. No community property is created during cohabitation. Some other states recognize common law marriages that are created by cohabitation for a set number of years.