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Common Law Issues The law regarding common law relationships is different than in cases of divorce. Discuss the issues that affect unmarried couples here.

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Old 01-17-2011, 04:02 PM
Innocent Bystander Innocent Bystander is offline
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Default Dad has paid for everything for 10 years...now she wants to take him to the cleaners

My dad has been in a relationship with a woman for 20 years. They have been living together for about 10. For the last several years they have been "roommates" only. She has a separate bedroom and bathroom.

She sold her house and bought a condo with my dad about 8 years ago. When they purchased their condo, the deed said they are "tenants in common" with my dad owning 5/8 and her 3/8. Her 3/8 is mortgaged and she has been paying it all along. The mortgage is in both names.

Their agreement was that they were to split all living costs 50/50. They had a joint account that covered the bills and they both contributed to it. After about 3 months, she closed the account. She has not contributed anything other than groceries in 8 years. My dad has been paying for everything, including furniture, renovations, cars, insurance, etc.

About 5 years ago, she purchased a condo in Florida in her name. She and my dad have been using it, and he paid for all renovations (e.g., carpet, paint, furniture, etc.) He found out that recently she somehow got the condo put into her daughter's name.

My dad owns a 37 foot cabin cruiser. It is in his name, but she had a small financial interest in the boat they sold to purchase the current boat.

About 5 years ago she had a car accident that left her in hospital for several weeks. My dad (at his expense) hired a lawyer and sued the other driver, and she received a payout of almost $300,000. She used the money to help her daughter pay her mortgage and debts.

The accident rendered her unable to work until about 2 years ago. She has been working full time and for the last year has been contributing a small portion of the monthly condo expenses. In light of the breakup, about 3 months ago she stopped contributing claiming to "have no money."

My dad is 70 and still works. On paper I suspect she probably makes more money (she is several years younger). She is after everything. She is also planning to seek spousal support. She has taken advantage of him for a long time and plans to do so in the breakup.

She has had a lot of money come to her in the past...proceeds of the house, insurance settlement, inheritance. I do know she lost a lot of money with a rogue financial planner, but she has never contributed anything significant financially to the relationship with my dad.

What is she entitled to? She's after 1/2 the condo, 1/2 the boat, spousal support. My dad already gave her a car and doesn't expect it back. She doesn't intend to split the Florida condo.

What about my dad? Is he 1/2 responsible for her mortgage? Does he have to give her 1/2 the boat? Can he claim 1/2 the Florida condo?

It's going to get very nasty.
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Old 01-17-2011, 09:37 PM
logicalvelocity logicalvelocity is offline
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For an Innocent Bystander, you write well. Welcome.
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Old 01-18-2011, 09:38 AM
Innocent Bystander Innocent Bystander is offline
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My brother and I have seen this coming for years...unfortunately for him his generosity and naivety have brought him to this point. He hasn't been the healthiest man either and we would love to see him retire and live comfortably.
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Old 01-18-2011, 09:47 AM
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You've laid everythng out logically and clearly and this should be the basis of what you bring to a lawyer or to court if necessary.

Items like your dad's home or the boat should be valued and split according to her contribution. Do it fairly. The condo go 5/8 3/8 as you suggest. For the boat, calculate her contribution, and either reimburse her or call it a percentage and offer her the percent of current value.

The condo in Florida, it is in her name, she is paying the mortgage etc. Calculate how much your dad paid for reno and write that up in a paragraph and seek that money as part of equalization. Then let the condo go, it is hers. In fact, your dad might consider letting go of the money he put into renovation (call it his "rent" for the time he spent living there) but leave that as a last minute concession, not your opening offer.

Her car accident and insurance settlement is hers; your dad has no claim on the money and it would maybe be possible to argue his contribution in legal fees but hardly worth it. If this does go to court, the contribution should be brought up, but in general he has no claim on her insurance settlement and he should just let it go.

She only would qualify for spousal support if she earned significantly less than he. "On paper" she earns more; it's not clear what this means, you have to be clear and accurate or you will get a nasty surprise. Assuming your dad is able to use significant write offs to lower his net income for taxes, these might be taken into account or might not, you have to be clearer. In general she gets spousal support if her income is less than 45% of his. That doesn't appear to be the case. However your dad should be able to claim most or all of his deductions, and meanwhile his ex will want to calculate from his gross income so it is difficult to say from here what the result is.

Your dad gave her a car and doesn't expect it back. Good, he won't get it back and shouldn't.

In a common law situation there is no formal equalization the way there is in a marriage/divorce, but your dad and his ex shared investments and they do have some claim to some value of each property. They can bankrupt themselves going to court over this. They need to make lists, have valuations done, go over who contributed what and take it all to a mediator. Your dad needs to then draw a line in the sand and say no to anything she wants that she doesn't own.
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Old 01-18-2011, 09:56 AM
HammerDad HammerDad is offline
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Re the boat and the Florida condo:

I would tell your dad to offer her a wash of these investments. He won't request his portion of the reno's to the Florida condo if she relinquishes her request for any portion of the boat.

If your dad can prove that he alone paid for all the mortgage, he may get somewhere with the judge, but at what cost. If it costs him nearly in legal fees as it would us to pay her out of the portion, he would be better served just washing his hands of her and paying her the money.

As for spousal support, see what Mess said. Same goes for her requests for anything that isn't in her name or that she owns.
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Old 01-18-2011, 10:11 AM
Innocent Bystander Innocent Bystander is offline
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All great advice Mess and HammerDad. Thank you.

The house deed which has them "tenants in common" with 5/8 and 3/8 interest...is that document legally binding or can she go after more? The 3/8 that she mortgaged...upon selling the condo will he be saddled with 1/2 her mortgage?

Also, they have a joint line of credit that carries a balance. Do they split this debt?
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Old 01-18-2011, 10:47 AM
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Unfortunately, she can ask for anything. Whether she is sucessful depends on your fathers arguments against her claims, and the ability of the Lawyer he retains...
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Old 01-18-2011, 11:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mess View Post
...In general she gets spousal support if her income is less than 45% of his. ...
Question.

Is this true, I thought SSAG was to split the COMBINED ndi (ie combine the incomes of the two people into one pot), and then distribute about 45/55 with 55% going to the greater income earner.

This is not what Mess is saying here, and its a BIG difference. I've been reading some posts that say this (what Mess has said), but others that seem to imply what I have said here.

Ignoring NDI and just talking numbers here is an example

Spouse 1 makes 100k
Spouse 2 makes 50k

Mess way - no SS since 50k > 45% of 100k

What I thought - combined income is 150K, 55% = 82.5k,
so SS is (100K - 82.5k) = 17.5K per year (~$1500/month)

Anyone care to clarify?
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Old 01-18-2011, 12:35 PM
Mess Mess is offline
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bill, I think your method would be the clearer way, but my lawyer's calculations, and the way I read the Spousal Support guidelines (which aren't law but are used commonly) say 45% of the payor's gross, or NDI if child support is paid.
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Old 01-18-2011, 02:35 PM
Innocent Bystander Innocent Bystander is offline
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Sounds like much of this could come down to negotiations, regardless of entitlement. Unfortunately I believe there will be no give and take on her part. That's just the kind of person she is. So they may well end up in court.

I'd like to re-ask the question I asked earlier...if they rely on the courts to settle the division of assets, will my dad be liable for a portion of her mortgage, even though she has always paid it? (He funded his 5/8 with the proceeds of his previous condo, while she mortgaged the full amount of her 3/8).

Also are they jointly responsible for the joint line of credit? A few months ago, without my dad's prior knowledge, she wrote a sizable cheque against the line of credit.
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