CITATION: 18 Cal. 3d 660
A women brought action against a man whom which she lived with for approximately six years. Plaintiff alleged that she and the defendant entered into an oral agreement that the plaintiff would give up her career and become a housemaker and housekeeper. The plaintiff quit her job as an entertainer and singer in order to cook and clean for the defendant. In return, the defendant would provide all financial support to the plaintiff for the remainder of her life. Plaintiff alleged that the two would combine their efforts and earnings and share the property they acquired throughout their relationship equally. After six years, the plaintiff was asked to leave by the defendant and was not given any monetary assistant after she left. She also did not receive any property. The plaintiff prayed for declaratory relief and asked the court to determine her contract and property rights Marvin v. Marvin 18 Cal. 3d 660 (1976).
Is the plaintiff’s case eligible for declaratory relief and is her oral agreement with the defendant considered a contract and is she eligible for property rights. Furthermore, was the agreement between the defendant and the plaintiff affirmed after the defendant’s divorce became final Marvin v. Marvin 18 Cal. 3d 660 (1976).
The trial court denied plaintiffs motion and granted defendant’s motion for judgment. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the trial courts findings Marvin v. Marvin 18 Cal. 3d 660 (1976).
OPINION AND REASONING OF THE COURT:
The court held that the terms of the contract did not rest upon unlawful consideration. They also stated that the situation was a suitable basis in which the trial court could establish declaratory relief. Therefore, the trial court erred in granting the defendant’s motion for judgment. The court held that even though the law does not govern the distribution of property in a nonmarital relationship, the law should still enforce expressed contracts that are made between those nonmarital partners. Furthermore, in absence of an expressed contract, the court should look at the conducts of both parties to determine whether or not that conduct is considered an implied contract Marvin v. Marvin 18 Cal. 3d 660 (1976).
CONCURRING OPINION BY TOBRINER, J. & WRIGHT, C.J.:
Justice Tobriner concluded that the Family Law Act does not govern the distribution of property that is acquired through a nonmartical relationship and should remain subject solely to a judicial decision. However, if there is an expressed contract between the two parties the court should enforce it except if the contract is founded on sexual services. In the absence of an expressed contract, courts should look at the conduct between the two parties to see if an implied contract was established between the two parties. Furthermore a court may also employ the doctrine of quantum meruit or equitable remedies when warranted by the facts of a case Marvin v. Marvin 18 Cal. 3d 660 (1976).
Justice Tobriner agreed that the decision of the trial court must be reversed. In this case, the plaintiff and defendant lived together for seven years without legally being married. All the property that was acquired throughout this period of time was taken and placed in the defendant’s name. The plaintiff sued for half of the property that was accumulated by the couple during the length of their relationship. The trial courts should have granted the plaintiff a trial based on the merits of her claim Marvin v. Marvin 18 Cal. 3d 660 (1976).
Therefore, adults who voluntarily live together and engage in relationships are just as competent as those individuals who are under a marriage contract whom must respect the earnings and property rights of the other individual. However, the law cannot uphold a contract to pay for the performance of sexual services but they can uphold contracts were individuals agree to compile earnings and property acquired during the relationship. The court held that the terms of the contract between the plaintiff and the defendant were not based upon any unlawful consideration and therefor the trial court consequently erred in granting defendant’s motion for judgment Marvin v. Marvin 18 Cal. 3d 660 (1976).
SEPARTATE DISSENTING OPINION BY CLARK, J.:
Justice Clark believes that courts should not determine the rights and duties within every meretricious relationship. This is due to the fact that some parties are not considered to be a meretricious relationship. He believes that the courts should enforce an expressed or implied agreement when one exists. However, in the absence of an agreement, the court system should consider the ramifications before creating economic obligations that generate undue burdens upon the other party Marvin v. Marvin 18 Cal. 3d 660 (1976).
PERSONAL OPINION BY STUDENT
I agree with the concurring opinion in this case. The court should look at the conduct of the parties to decide whether or not a contract existed between the parties. There is a prevalence of nonmarital relationships in society today and these situations should be looked at closely by the court system to see if a contract does exist. There are some unmaritial relationships that last longer than marital ones and have more property and money invested in them than marital relationships. This relationships should be looked at to determine whether or not a contract does exist. It isn’t fair for one person to acquire all property just because it is in their names. Even though a couple is not married does not mean there is not a contract between the two parties.