Cohabitating As An Unmarried Couple

Cohabitation is when two people decide to live together but are not legally married. Generally, cohabitation is an agreement between partners to reside together without any legal responsibility or obligation towards one another.

Some partners choose to have a cohabitation agreement, which is a contract outlining the property and financial rights between the couples. Though, more commonly, there is no legal contract between cohabiting couples, which is when troubles can arise. If you are experiencing legal issues in your cohabitation arrangements, our California non-marital cohabitation attorneys at Baghdaserians Law Group can help you.

Rights As An Unmarried Couple

Unmarried couples will not have the same legal protections that married couples have, which means they also have fewer responsibilities to one another in the event of a breakup. California does not recognize common law marriage, however, there are some instances where unmarried partners may assert the same rights as divorcing spouses during a breakup. To assert this right, the couple must have made a contract or Cohabitation Agreement, which assigns property and financial rights and defines the relationship.

Outside of a valid contract, in the event of a breakup, cohabitants generally have no rights to acquire support from the other and no interest or rights in property that the other party has acquired.

What Is Palimony?

Palimony is similar to the concept of alimony. It provides financial support to unmarried couples who were in cohabitation but are now separated. California is one of 29 states who allow palimony, or some form of it.

Palimony is typically restricted to two types of cases:

  1. Putative Spouse: this is when one mistakenly believes that they were married. In order to collect palimony in this circumstance, the mistake must be reasonable and in good faith.
  2. Contractual relationship: where there has been a private agreement made between the partners regarding their arrangement. This agreement can be verbal, written, or implied.

The court will look to several factors to determine the status of a relationship in order to receive palimony, some of these include:

  • Comingling of assets
  • Shared property and income
  • Length of the relationship
  • Providing support to your partner
  • Naming your partner as a beneficiary
  • Existence of an agreement

Palimony payments are never lifelong payments. They are only intended to help the parties transition from cohabitation to single life.

Marvin Action: Where Did Palimony Originate?

In 1976, a California case, Marvin v. Marvin, established Palimony. The case began when Lee Marvin’s ex-girlfriend, Michelle Triola, filed a lawsuit against him demanding to receive financial support—similar to alimony. Her arguments stemmed from their 7 years of living together, and that she abandoned her career to take care of him and handle household matters.

The court accepted Ms. Triola’s argument, which was the framework for creating palimony. The court agreed that in certain situations, spousal-like support can be awarded to unmarried couples after separation.

The term “Marvin Action” refers to a civil court action that is brought by unwed individuals who were in cohabitation with a partner. A Marvin claim is not a family law matter and must be filed as a civil action in a civil court of law.

Contact Us Today

If you are going through a separation involving a non-marital cohabitation, contact our family law attorneys today. We may be able to help you get the compensation you deserve.

Contact the Baghdaserians Law Group today through our website or at 626 460-9525 for our Pasadena office, or 310 299-4608 for our Beverly Hills office.

All funds collected for consultation are donated to charity.

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