Do Mistresses have any rights?
Every American has inalienable rights granted by the Constitution: Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness. Obviously, the mistress has these rights.
But I think what people REALLY want to know is whether or not they have FINANCIAL rights from their boyfriend (the legal husband of some one else).
They wanna know: Can mistresses get money from the husband?
Common Law Marriage
California abolished common law marriage in 1895. One couple may live together for over 100 years, but they are not considered “married” in the eyes of the California law. Marriage is a civil contract defined by statute, Family Code 300.
Some states recognize common law marriage. If you are common-law married in these states, and thereafter move to California, California will accept it.
It doesn’t matter for purposes of our mistress discussion, because the husband is already married and a subsequent marriage is void.
Palimony and the Marvin Case
Next up: Palimony. Palimony is a funny word, derived from “alimony”. Palimony was coined by a celebrity divorce attorney in 1977. He represented Michelle Marvin against actor Lee Marvin. (Coincidentally, the attorney’s name is also Marvin: Marvin Mitchelson).
Whereas married people can get alimony from their marriage, “palimony” is support given to a boyfriend/girlfriend after their relationship ends.
In the 1976 Marvin case, Michelle lived with Lee for 5 year (1965-1970), never marrying. After their relationship ended, she sued him for breaking his promise to her that he would support her for life. While she ultimately LOST in the case (not getting any support), the Court ruled that even though common law marriage was abolished in 1895, the courts will still recognize a non-marital relationship contract.
The takeaway from the Marvin case is that even though you are NOT married, you may be entitled to support (palimony) under a contractual theory, as long as there is a contract.
Contracts can be oral or written, but oral contracts are worthless. (He said, she said). If you are a mistress and you want money, you need to put it in WRITING. Because no marriage exists, the lawsuit is brought in civil court, not family court.
For a list of successful palimony cases, click here.
Recently, an Ontario, Canada Appeals Court ruled a man who never lived with his girlfriend, never had kids, had to pay her $50,000 a month in palimony for 10 years. (their relationship lasted 14 years).
If you are a mistress and you get pregnant, you can get child support by law. How much child support depends on the guideline child support formula articulated in Family Code 4055.
Can Mistresses be Sued?
Some states allow an “alienation of affection claim”. This type of claim is brought by the former spouse against the mistress, alleging that their actions destroyed their marriage. Currently, only 6 states allow this: Hawaii, North Carolina, Mississippi, New Mexico, South Dakota, and Utah