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Summary of Marvin v.

Marvin
Relevant Facts: Michelle Marvin and (actor) Lee Marvin lived together in California for six years. After six years of
cohabitation, Lee Marvin kicked Michelle Marvin out of the household. Michelle Marvin followed in kind, by filing suit,
alleging that the two of them had entered into an oral arrangement stipulating that during the time the parties lived
together, they would combine their efforts and earnings and would share equally any and all property accumulated as
a result of their efforts whether individual or combined. Furthermore, she claimed they agreed to live within the guise
of what could be construed as a common law marriage. Within her suit, Michelle Marvin asked the court to determine
her contract and property rights as well as sanction Lee Marvin, finding that she was entitled to community property
rights given their arrangement. The trial court found in favor of the defendant, Lee Marvin, at which point Michelle
Marvin filed an appeal with the Supreme Court.
Issue: Whether individuals, who break up from non-marital, long-term, live-in relationships are entitled to financial
compensation or the divvying up of assets at the conclusion of a relationship.
Holding: The Supreme Court of California reversed the lower courts ruling.
Majority Opinion Reasoning: The Court principally reasoned that non-marital partners are not entitled to division of
community property. In short, the privileges granted to those who are married are not transferrable to those who
choose not to marry. Nevertheless, when a marriage does not exist, the court can and should focus on enforcing
explicit agreements between the applicable parties, assuming that such agreements are not grounded on the
provision of sexual services, which would implicitly be tantamount to prostitution. When an explicit agreement does
not exist, courts may investigate as needed and look at other appropriate remedies.
Dissenting Opinion: Justice Klein dissented on the grounds that the relief granted to Michelle Marvin by the Court
was not in fact in keeping with what she initially asked for, based on the facts. In the trial matter, she indicated that
she deserved the funds essentially because she had lived up to her promise to act in a role or capacity as that which
a wife would. However, at the appellate level she argued that she needed funds in order to rehabilitate herself and
get back on her own two feet financially. Kleins principal complaint then, was that the relief given was inconsistent
with the facts presented, and that if anything, the matter should have been decided by a jury in a new trial.
Conclusion: This was a relevant and important case because it touched upon the issue of palimony at a time when
presumably, many people were choosing not to marry, in order to free themselves of the financial repercussions
associated with the dissolution of marital relationships. This case put forth the possibility that even if two individuals
are not married, they can still be financially burdened by the other in the case of a breakup, depending upon living
arrangements and other promises made during the relationship.