The Misunderstood Definition of Palimony

Many people think palimony is the money that a wife must pay her ex husband after a divorce. This may be because alimony has historically been associated with what a man pays his ex wife. But palimony, also called the Marvin Claim or Marvin Action, is actually a non- marital partner’s right to financial support. This means it is the money or assets that are divided when a live-in (not legally married) relationship ends.

Where The Word Comes From

The word palimony is not a centuries old term stemming from the Greek. It is a neologism; a linguistic blending of the words pal + alimony. The term was coined in 1977 by celebrity divorce attorney Marvin Mitchelson. According to Wikipedia, Mitchelson used the term to describe what his client Michelle Triola Marvin was seeking in her suit against actor Lee Marvin in Marvin v. Marvin.

The History Of The Marvin Claim

Why the confusion? People may have thought palimony was a payment made by the wife of the ex husband because of the homophone “polyandry.” Polyandry is the term used when a woman has more than one husband.

Contemporary palimony claims have roots in the above noted 1976 Marvin v Marvin decision. From this case came the “Marvin Claim.” While the Marvin case is not the first case regarding palimony this 1976 Supreme Court case is a starting point. Marvin v Marvin states that “non-marital partners have the right to enforce expressed or implied agreements for support or property sharing in the event of a separation.”

This decision changed the way non-marital relationships were viewed under the law. However, later cases seem to contradict this ruling, especially Milian V. DeLeon in 1986 which states that living together, “is not a prerequisite to the finding of an implied agreement between unmarried persons concerning their property.”

What To Consider In Palimony

Three things to consider when filing a palimony or Marvin claim are:

1. Whether one of the parties performed “valuable services” to the other or to their company or business.

2. Whether the two people worked together and if they created anything “of value.”

3. Whether there was an agreement, expressed or implied, about the sharing of funds or property.

Creating a legally binding agreement before living together can ensure that both parties understand who owns what and what will happen if the relationship ends.

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