As it turns out, one need not be officially married to deal with legal policies and procedures as part of a separation. Specifically, any couple living under the same roof for an extended period of time might qualify for a so-called Marvin Action, which can include many of the same features and functions of a traditional divorce. Since this is a less common term, let’s begin with a broad definition.
What Is a Marvin Action and How Can It Affect You?
Anyone who has faced a divorce or is currently going through that process understands that it can often be confusing and overwhelming.
What Is a Marvin Action?
Also known as a cohabitation claim, this type of civil court process is designed to resolve disputes between couples separating after having lived together for several years. Such lawsuits are available to couples of all types regardless of factors such as gender.
Of course, it’s inherently more difficult to prove when an unmarried couple first began cohabitating than it is to pinpoint the date of a legal marriage. For that reason, there are several restrictions and requirements placed on any party participating in a Marvin Action filing.
Any individual who qualifies, however, can benefit from court arbitration in determining how assets and other features of the relationship will be divided after the separation.
Similar to a divorce proceeding, the legal system can step in to decide what is fair for all parties involved. As in the dissolution of a marriage, the outcome might not result in anyone getting exactly what they want. The point, however, is to restore each individual to an equitable position after considering all the relevant details presented in court.
A Brief History
This unique legal process dates back to 1976, when actor Lee Marvin was taken to court by his former partner. Michelle Triola had lived with Marvin for several years, during which time she said that the entertainer vowed that he would provide financial support to her as long as she lived.
Although the claim led to a new precedent by which other unmarried couples would be able to make their claims before a judge, it didn’t work out as Triola might have hoped.
The case ultimately escalated to California’s highest court, which ruled that she wasn’t able to provide any proof of a contract with Marvin. Furthermore, there was no evidence that the actor had acted in a manner suggesting that he intended to support her after a break-up.
As such, the state Supreme Court determined that she was not entitled to any property or money that she did not have when she started living with him.
Triola’s lawsuit opened the door for other couples to use the court system to determine who should get what when a relationship falls apart following a period of cohabitation.
Specific Evidence Required
As Triola learned through her court case, it’s vital to provide plenty of proof that one party should receive support from the other. This starts with the basics, including evidence regarding how long a couple have been living together at the time of separation.
Among the details that a court will seek to identify during this process is whether the two partners reached the point of either a confidential or fiduciary relationship while residing under the same roof.
If a couple raised children together, a court is likely to consider that as a reason to believe that the couple established the interdependence necessary to carry on with a Marvin Action.
There are several other ways to prove that one individual is entitled to some sort of relief. Courts might respond to evidence that one partner put his or her career on hold to take care of domestic responsibilities. If one individual worked for free or for a reduced wage to build the other individual’s business, a judge is likely to take that information into account.
Better Safe Than Sorry
In the end, nothing is more convincing when filing a complaint in court than showing up with a written contract between the two partners. If there is an agreement in writing to provide some benefit, it’s easy to present that evidence to a judge. It’s worth noting that this doesn’t have to be an official contract.
In fact, courts often accept electronic messages, greeting cards, letters, and other informal forms of written communication to establish the basis for a ruling.
Additionally, the more a cohabiting couple resembles a married couple in the eyes of others, the more likely that a court will rule that the parties involved are eligible for relief through a Marvin claim.
A judge might call on friends, family members, and others who would know whether the individuals presented themselves as committed romantic partners during the period that they lived together. Among the other evidence commonly accepted in such lawsuits are posts made to social media sites that reflect the nature of the relationship.
If a couple acquires property together or assumes joint debt, such documents might also support a claim of interdependence for the purposes of a civil lawsuit. Various other factors, such as joint insurance policies, shared retirement accounts, and a common surname are also possibly influential details.
The more a cohabiting couple resembles a married couple in the eyes of others, the more likely that a court will rule that the parties involved are eligible for relief through a Marvin claim.
Final Thoughts to Remember
No one goes into a romantic relationship with the intention of breaking up and filing a lawsuit. Since it’s very common for all types of couples to separate, however, it’s important to understand the process in case such a situation arises.
Going into any cohabiting partnership with a focus on establishing some basic parameters can help clear up a lot of confusion should the relationship fizzle out down the road. Since every couple is different and the legal system can vary based on the jurisdiction, the responsibility falls on individuals to take these matters seriously. Simply assuming that sharing a home will be sufficient proof of a legally binding promise is not enough. As Michelle Triola learned the hard way, a court needs compelling evidence to rule in one party’s favor.