Can a breakup lead to alimony or property division in California?

Man upset at his desk

It is common for people to make sacrifices for their primary romantic relationships. One of the reasons that marriage is such an important institution is that it protects those who make a commitment and then sacrifice their personal resources or earning potential for the betterment of their family unit.

However, it is increasingly common for people to fall in love and spend decades of their lives together without ever getting married. When such relationships end, the outcome of a breakup can be incredibly unfair. One partner may have their name on the deed for most shared property and may have earned the bulk of income during the relationship, while the other took care of the home or their children.

Can a dependent partner ask for alimony or property rights in a California breakup?

A Marvin action can lead to compensation

California has some unique laws and legal precedents. The right of a dependent romantic partner to initiate a Marvin action is an important and unique protection. Ever since a major court ruling in the 1970s, unmarried romantic partners have had rights to ask for alimony or some of their ex’s property if the relationship meets certain criteria.

Typically, there needs to have been promises made about someone’s standard of living or property rights. There also need to have been unpaid contributions made by the individual asking for financial support or certain assets.

Provided that your circumstances meet the standards established by the state, you could potentially ask your ex to make monthly payments to you so that you can find a way to support yourself or even ask for some of the property accumulated during your relationship, like the home where you have lived with your ex for years.

How do you build your case as an unmarried claimant?

There are multiple ways to demonstrate to the courts that you have a valid claim to some of the property owned by your ex. Text messages and social media posts professing their love for you and their desire to provide for your family can be one source of evidence. Written agreements or even statements made in public in front of witnesses could also help support your claim.

Attempting to gain property rights or alimony payments through a Marvin action can be a significant challenge, which is why many people facing a complex breakup after a long-term relationship will discuss the matter with a lawyer before taking any specific actions. Learning more about California’s property division laws and court precedent can help you determine what rights you may have as your breakup progresses.


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