A Chronological Summary of California "Palimony" Law Before Marvin

..........The Marvin decision was more evolutionary than revolutionary. To a large extent, Marvin was based on prior law. This article sets forth a chronological summary of California "palimony" cases before Marvin. Since this list is intended to be of practical, rather than historical, value, overruled cases are omitted.

1. Trutalli vs. Meraviglia (1932) 215 Cal. 698: Establishes the principle that non-marital partners may lawfully contract concerning the ownership of property acquired during the relationship, and holds that an agreement between cohabitants that all monies be paid to the man to be invested for their joint benefit, each to have an undivided 1/2 interest therein, is enforceable so long as it is not based upon the illegal and immoral agreement of the plaintiff and the defendant to live and cohabit together as man and wife.

2. Padilla vs. Padilla (1940) 38 Cal.App.2d 319: Where cohabitants agreed to purchase and own real property jointly, each to pay 1/2 of the purchase price, and the conveyance of the property to the woman as her separate property was made without the man's knowledge or consent, and the man paid his 1/2 share of the installments of the purchase price as they fell due and purchased materials and constructed additions to the house, the evidence established a resulting trust.

3. Hill vs. Estate of Westbrook (1950) 95 Cal.App.2d 599 [213 P.2d 727]: Reverses a judgement based in part on the value of housekeeping services rendered by a woman while living in a meretricious relationship with a man where it cannot be determined what part of the award was for compensable household services and what part was based on the services for which recovery cannot be had. "The law does not award compensation for living with a man as a concubine and bearing him children."

4. Garcia vs. Venegas (1951) 106 Cal.App.2d 364 [235 P.2d 89]: Where cohabitants agree to pool their work earnings and share equally in the property accumulated therewith, and the illicit relationship is not so involved in the contract as to render it illegal, the law recognizes the contract, and the woman is entitled to a determination that she has an undivided one-half interest in realty acquired by the cohabitants; but if, after such relationship has ceased, the man has made further payments on the realty, he is entitled to a lien against the woman's one-half interest in the property.

5. Hill vs. Estate of Westbrook (1952) 39 Cal.2d 458 [247 P.2d 19]: An express contract between cohabitants to compensate for services performed as a housekeeper is valid unless made in contemplation of an illicit relationship, and whether the contract is dependent upon the illicit relationship is a question of fact.

6. Updeck vs. Samuel (1954) 123 Cal.App.2d 264 [266 P.2d 822]: An oral contract between a man and a woman based on consideration that they are living together as husband and wife, whereas both parties are legally married to other spouses, is void ab initio because it is founded on an immoral consideration and because it calls for them to live in a state of adultery.

7. Bridges vs. Bridges (1954) 125 Cal.App.2d 359 [270 P.2d 69]: A finding that there was a pooling agreement between cohabitants is sustained by the woman's testimony that, as soon as their divorces were final, he was to marry her, that he said, "I will be a father to your children and you will be a mother to mine," and that with respect to property acquired during such relationship, "everything was supposed to be 50/50"; by evidence that for some years she kept this bargain and it could be inferred that her work and services thereunder were a material factor in success the parties had in accumulation of property; and by testimony as to many things the two did in acquisition and improvement of property.

8. Cline vs. Festersen (1954) 128 Cal.App.2d 380 [275 P.2d 149]: Judgment declaring woman owner of one-half of decedent's estate is sustained by evidence that she and decedent had cohabited for 22 years, and that she assisted him in operating a farm and auto court without compensation, and that he twice told her that all their property was owned "50/50." The administrator of the man's estate is estopped to assert the statute of frauds in such action where the woman trusted and believed the man's statements to her that everything would be owned in common, and he never repudiated this agreement.

9. Ferraro vs. Ferraro (1956) 146 Cal.App.2d 849 [304 P.2d 168]: A finding that cohabitants made and performed an agreement to pool their work and earnings was sustained by evidence that they agreed to "work together, save our money and maybe later on get married." A finding that the parties did work together with the common purpose of pooling their work and earnings was sustained by evidence that the man operated his trucking business and the woman kept house and used her income as a waitress to defray household expenses.

10. Croslin vs. Scott (1957) 154 Cal.App.2d 767 [316 P.2d 755]: An agreement entered into between an unmarried man and woman in which the man accepted the woman's offer to give him a lot in return for his previous services provided he returned to live with her would be illegal and unenforceable. However, if later and after the parties were living together a new agreement was made, namely, that in consideration of the man's performing labor and furnishing materials in the building of a house, it was to be deeded to him, and that such agreement was modified when the woman also put money into the house to an agreement that the parties would hold the property jointly, the court could find that the continuance of such relationship was not a part of either agreement nor consideration therefor, and the agreement was enforceable.

11. Barlow vs. Collins (1958) 166 Cal.App.2d 274 [333 P.2d 64]:

..........A. Although it is the general rule that a partner may not sue his co-partner in an action at law with respect to firm transactions until an accounting has been had, it does not apply where the wrongful acts complained of are not only a breach of contract, but also constitute a tort, especially where the tort is of such a nature that it terminates the partnership and wrongfully destroys it as well, and where the erring partner converts to his own use the entire assets.

..........B. Where cohabitants lived together for about 8 years under a pooling agreement, the man's action for a share in the profits or wages accumulated was not barred by the statute of limitations, since the statute would run from the time of the breach or termination of the agreement, or when the cause of action accrued.

..........C. A judgment awarding plaintiff a sum of money as his share of funds on deposit in defendant's bank account was sustained by evidence that plaintiff and defendant were cohabitants living under a pooling agreement, defendant to keep the funds and handle them for both, that defendant kept the money in a bank account and safe deposit box in her name, that they subsequently went into business together on several occasions under the same arrangements, and that when plaintiff and defendant finally broke up, defendant refused to share the money with plaintiff.

12. Ferguson vs. Schuenemann (1959) 167 Cal.App.2d 413 [334 P.2d 668]:

..........A. A finding that cohabitants had a pooling agreement was sustained by evidence that they took property in their names as husband and wife, bought and sold property, executed deeds of trust and notes, and borrowed money representing themselves to public institutions and in many business transactions as husband and wife, that the woman held a real estate salesman's license which the man assisted her to obtain, and worked with him in the real estate business, and that through the years she cooked and maintained the home, shared her car for the needs of the business, went on listing tours, acted as hostess to patrons who came to purchase property, advised and consulted with the man as to house construction and furnishings, and did actual sales work during the years she held a license.

..........B. In an action by a woman to establish her equitable interest in property acquired during cohabitation, the admission of evidence intended to indicate the affection borne by the man toward the woman during the time involved, though unnecessary, had at least some corroborative value in showing the man's intent in his dealings with plaintiff and, in any event, was not harmful or improper.

13. Weak vs. Weak (1962) 202 Cal.App.2d 632 [21 Cal.Rptr. 9]: A pooling agreement between parties to a bigamous marriage is enforceable.

14. Beckman vs. Mayhew (1975) 49 Cal.App.3d 529 [122 Cal.Rptr. 604]: Cohabitant was entitled to an equitable lien on the man's real estate, where she had cosigned a promissory note with him, the proceeds of which were used to a large extent to purchase materials used in improving the property, where a large balance remained due on the note, and where there was no evidence of a collateral agreement negativing the woman's indebtedness. Holds that the Family Law Act does not apply to cohabitation agreements (followed in Marvin).

..........The information on this Web page is based on California law. It is not legal advice and cannot replace the advice of competent legal counsel licensed in your State based on the specific facts and circumstances of your case. See Disclaimer.