If you know the phrase “Marvin claim,” you probably know the name comes from the palimony breakup of actor Lee Marvin (The Dirty Dozen) and long-term girlfriend Michelle Triola.

Driven by gossip publications like People Magazine, the phrase caught on in the 1970s, when the unmarried, less wealthy, non-celebrity partner sought a measure of the couple’s assets when the two parted company. The California Supreme Court decided Marvin v Marvin in 1976.

The nature of palimony

In a Marvin claim, an unmarried partner can request financial support or property, just like in a divorce. What is necessary is to prove that an expressed or implied contract was in effect that justified or legitimized the claim.

It sometimes happens, as when a couple lives together for a period of time and then gets married, that one side can file both a Marvin claim for the time before they married, and regular division of property following the marriage.

Marvin claims especially apply to property acquired during the cohabitation period.

Marvin claims are filed not in family court, as divorces are, but in a civil action. They are essentially a breach of contract suit, alleging that an expressed or implied contract existed between the two parties.

Like any civil suit, Marvin claims involve a plaintiff seeking redress, and a defendant seeking to deny or minimize redress. The Viola Firm represents both sides in such cases.

Marvin claim defenses

  • The statute of limitations expiring
  • The notion that the relationship, especially the sexual part, was paid for – that it was not really a relationship at all
  • The absence of the kind of valid contract that Marvin claims require. That it was forced by one side onto the other, or that it was vague, or one-sided, or the plaintiff did not hold up his or her end of the agreement.

Marvin claims often involve disclosing personal details of the relationship. Your attorney will advise you on what terms strengthen your claim, or strengthen your defense against the claim.