Marin Family Law Attorney: Duty to Support Unmarried Cohabitant

In California, during the pendency of a proceeding or in a judgment of dissolution or legal separation, the court may order a party to pay spousal support to the other party. The court orders support in the amount and for the length of time it determines is just and reasonable, based on the standard of living established during the marriage, considering circumstances specified in Fam. Code, §§ 4320 et seq. If you were in a relationship of long duration and never married, contact an experienced Marin County family law attorney to evaluate your claim.

However, nonmarital cohabitants do not have a statutory duty to support one another. A court will not award unmarried cohabitants “spousal support” if the relationship ends.

What is an Unmarried Cohabitant?

“Unmarried cohabitants” are partners who live together but never married or entered into a domestic partnership. Some states have “common law” marriage. Common law spouses may be able to receive financial support from the other spouse if the relationship ends. In California, however, common law marriage is not legal. California lacks a statute requiring unmarried cohabitants to financially support one another. However, you may have a “Marvin” claim for support.

The case Marvin v. Marvin provides that there may be an express or implied contract between cohabitants. See Marvin v. Marvin, 18 Cal. 3d 660, 134 Cal. Rptr. 815, 557 P.2d 106 (1976). The Family Court will not deal with Marvin claims unless they somehow impact child custody, visitation or child support. If the parties did not have a valid marriage or valid registered domestic partnership, the court in a Family Code proceeding cannot enter a temporary spousal/partner support orderGromeeko v. Gromeeko (1952) 110 CA2d 117, 123, 242 P2d 41, 45; see also Friedman v. Friedman (1993) 20 CA4th 876, 886, 24 CR2d 892, 898

Can a Family Law Attorney Help Me if My Ex Moved Out of State?

The answer to this question depends on whether certain requirements are met. In one case, two male companions lived in California. One companion moved out of state. The former California resident was subject to California jurisdiction in his live-in male companion’s suit for breach of an oral agreement (to share earnings and property) and infliction of emotional distress.

“[D]omicile at the time the cause of action arose, in addition to allegations that the action is based on the defendant’s activities within the forum state, afford the state a constitutional basis for personal jurisdiction.” This was true even though the defendant changed his domicile before the suit was commenced (thus precluding personal jurisdiction predicated on domicile alone). Kroopf v. Guffey(1986) 183 CA3d 1351, 1358, 228 CR 807, 811.

Although having one party move out of state can add a slight wrinkle to a litigation, a party cannot avoid liability by skipping town. If you and your ex lived in California when the contract was made and the activities subject to the litigation occurred in California, then California likely has personal jurisdiction over your ex.

Should I Contact a Bay Area Family Law Attorney?

If your ex-partner promised to financially support you in writing or verbally, you may be able to file a civil lawsuit for compensation. Thus, if you are in a situation where your former partner entered into a verbal or oral contract to support you and subsequently left the state, contact an experienced Marin County Family Law Attorney to assist you.


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