Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Monday, February 12, 2024

Article: Marvin Claims at Death

Patricia A. Cain (Professor of Law, Santa Clara University) recently published, Marvin Claims at Death, ACTEC Law Journal, VOLUME 49, Number 1, Fall 2023 (pub 1/24). Provided below is an Introduction:

The law applied to unmarried couples experienced a sea change in 1976 when the California Supreme Court handed down its decision in Marvin v. Marvin. Before Marvin, courts often held that contracts between cohabitants dealing with rights of support or property could not be enforced because they were against public policy.

Post-Marvin, all states but two have recognized the right of unmarried cohabitants to enter into enforceable contracts to the extent there is consideration for the contract other than sex. Those contracts may be implied, express, oral or written. States vary in their willingness to recognize such contracts. Some states require the contract to be express. A handful require such contracts to be in writing.

But Marvin went beyond announcing a rule regarding contracts between unmarried couples. It also established the right of an unmarried partner to asset equitable claims against the other partner upon dissolution of the relationship…


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