The Truth - the Winning Argument for Your Case

25 Nov. 2013

Can a Same Sex Partner Have a Community Property Claim in the Event of a Breakup?

Posted By The Buncher Law Corporation

Gay Couple Fighting

The answer to this question is yes! The principles of the ground-breaking case,Marvin v. Marvin (1976) 18 Cal.3d 660, applies to both opposite and same sex couples.

Same sex couples can form enforceable agreements, either expressly through words or a written document, or implicitly through their actions, to support one another, to pool their earnings or to share their property. As in any Marvin type action, the consideration - or payment — for such an agreement may not be based upon sexual services, because in essence, this would be an illegal contract for prostitution.

However, the consideration for such Marvin type agreements is often based upon other domestic actions. This includes working as a housekeeper, cook, acting as a companion and confidante, arranging and handling social schedules and activities, managing travel schedules, operating the household and handling all or most other day to day activities so that the other partner may work, unencumbered, by the tasks of daily life.

For example, in Whorton v. Dillingham (1988) 202 Cal.App.3d 447, the court of appeal upheld the validity of a complaint alleging an oral agreement between same sex partners. In part, Whorton alleged an oral agreement wherein he agreed, among other things, to act on a full-time basis as Dillingham's chauffeur, bodyguard, social and business secretary, partner and counselor in real estate investments, and to appear on his behalf when requested. Whorton also agreed to render labor, skills and personal services for the benefit of Dillingham’s business and investment endeavors.

In exchange, Wharton alleged that Dillingham agreed to, among other things, provide Dillingham one-half equity in all property acquired by Dillingham and to financially support Whorton for life. These non-sexually based considerations were found to be sufficient grounds to allege an oral contract (Whorton would still have to prove to the jury that such a contract existed).

But one must keep in mind that parties in a domestic relationship typically perform various favors and duties for one another. Simply by virtue of such favors and duties, an agreement to share property or provide support does not necessarily arise. One must ultimately prove in court that there was an express or implied agreement that should be enforced.

You may wish to refer to our blog entitled, "Do I have a Marvin Action?" for more insight on this issue.

Blog Home

Helpful Family Law Resources

Family law can be complex, but there are plenty of resources available to assist you. Browse through the various resources our team provides to help simplify your legal process in every way possible.

We Have the Answers You Need