Davis v. Davis
Mississippi Supreme Court
643 So. 2d 931 (1994)
In 1969, Elvis Davis (plaintiff) began working at Travis Davis’s (defendant) furniture business. Elvis and Travis became romantically involved and began cohabitating in 1972. Elvis and Travis never legally married. However, Elvis used Travis’s last name, and Travis referred to Elvis as his wife in his will, marital trust, and tax forms. In 1974, Elvis and Travis had one child together, at which point Elvis stopped working at the factory. After Elvis left the business, she focused on childcare and tending to the Davises’ home. Travis proposed that the couple marry, but Elvis declined. In 1985, Travis left Elvis for his secretary. Following the separation, Travis purchased Elvis a new home, in which he invested over $30,000 for remodeling and furnishing, and a new car worth $14,000. In 1986, Elvis filed a suit against Travis to seek an equitable distribution of the assets acquired during the relationship because Travis’s net worth had increased from $850,000 to over $7 million during the 13-year relationship. Elvis argued that the couple had formed a business partnership and that the doctrine of equitable distribution entitled her to the accumulated assets. Travis claimed that no business partnership existed and that he viewed Elvis not as a wife but as a mistress. The Delaware Court of Chancery found that no business partnership existed and refused to apply the equitable-distribution doctrine because she voluntarily assumed to be Travis’s mistress by denying the marriage proposal. Elvis appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (McRae, J.)
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