There's only one thing certain about the outcome of the Marvin v. Marvin case: "The word "palimony" has entered the American vernacular.
On the ruling itself-who won, what precedent was set, and what the decision implies about society in general-there was no consensus.
Phyllis Schlafly, nationalchairman of the Stop ERA forces, and a lawyer married to a lawyer, called the decision "just and fair."
"It's a good lesson for women who move in with men that they're not going to get the rights of a wife-if they want them, they'll have to talk the guy into marrying them. And it's a good lesson for the men who invite women to live with them that it just might be more costly than they anticipated."
Shana Alexander, who usually takes up the cudgel of the liberal cause on the "Point/Counterpoint" segment of "60 Minutes," found the case extrmemely complicated.
"It's a contract issue. And if I understood contracts, I wouldn't be in the mess I'm in in my own life. Books, ex-husbands, ex-lawyers, ex-agnets-they're all contracts, and I don't understnad a one of them."
Upon hearing the amount of the award, she said, "Lee Marvin got a bargain, didn't he?"
Feminist Gloria Steinem had a written statement prepared almost immediately.
"Lee Marvin seems to be the one who needs rehabilitating-in the form of a short course in truth-telling" her statement said in part.
"As for the impact of this decision on other marriages and similar relationships, I think women will now be far more likely to insist on a financial agreement in writing before they give up their careers or wash even one dish-and that's probably healthy. If this results in men complaining that women no longer believe in the promises of romance, let them complain to the Lee Marvins."
"I think the judge should have sentenced them both to a reconciliation," Barbara Howar said firmly. "They so richly deserved one another."
Despite the fact that she thinks Lee Marvin is probably "a first-class, cardcarrying-," Howar has no sympathy for Michelle Marvin's case.
"Any grown woman who wants a career doesn't just give ti up . . .I've seen Lee Marvin's house, and it's no ghetto. I'm sure she didn't spend too much time swabbing out the toilets."
Howar, who says she has been out "hot and heavy" on the lecture circuit, said, "The Only women who sympathized with Michelle Marvin were rich old ladies. The working-class and career women were indignant. What she's done is make an emotional mistake and try to get someone else to pay for it."
"It seems to be a victory for everybody," growled Art Buchwald. "I was watching it on TV, and he said he gave her the money for 'retraining." I don't know what they're going to retrain her for-remedial marriage?"
Buchwald agreed, however, that the decision would make him more careful were he tempted to indiscretion. "I've always been against splitting 50-50 with your wife, much less your girlfriend."
Norris Church-the woman with whom Norman Mailer has lived for four years and with whom he has a 1-year-old child named John Buffalo Mailer-said:
"I was divorced once before and didn't ask for alimony. I was supporting myself and my child.That gives you an idea of what I think of women who ask for alimony."
Since Mailer is "involved in a divorce case, he doesn't think he should comment," Church said.
Liberal philanthropist Stewart Mott said he hadn't followed the case carefully, but:
"I believe that when people live with each other, there is an implied contract for support and that should extend for some time beyond the time of living together. At the time that I was considering living with someone, we talked that over. We talked about the financial arrangement."
"I think it sounds pretty fair, just off the top of my head," actress Lauren Bacall said, then added with a familiar snap: "I think everybody ought to work for a living-if she can go to school and learn to work. But I don't know who's going to see to that!"
Rep. Don Edwards-a California congressmen who is chairman of the House subcommittee on civil and constitutional rights-had a pragmatic approach.
"As a lawyer," he declared, after 15 minutes to consider his answer, "I still say that oral contracts are worth the paper they're written on."
Other lawyers had other opinions.
"The decision was surprising to me because it means that there will be a tremendous flood of this kind of litigation," said Stuard Zalzer, a Beverly Hills attorney.
"I thought he [Superior Court Judge Arthur Marshals] was conservative and his instincts would push him away from encouraging litigation. I suppose he figured in view of the overall amount demanded, this was a modest sum. But unfortunately, it will be touted as a great triumph and this will encourage more litigation."
Tony Carsola,an attorney specializing in family law, disagreed with Walzer's prediction that the courts would be inundated with suits.
"I don't think this case is going to open a floodgate because it's telling women they better have a basis on which to allege their damages," he said. "The court is looking for more than just a love relationship."
Raoul Felder, a New York attorney considered one of the country's foremost family law specialists, said the ruling didn't set a precedent.
"I think every case is going to stand and fall on its own," he said.
"But the victory for Miss Marvin to be in court was a victory for all women," he said, referring to the 1976 ruling. "Unfortunately, too many people will lose sight of this by focusing on the [trial] decision." CAPTION: Picture, Lee Marvin shown enroute to a post-decision news conference in Tucson, likwise happily; AP