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Financial Issues This forum is for discussing any of the financial issues involved in your divorce.

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  #1  
Old 10-28-2011, 02:04 PM
sadandrippedoff sadandrippedoff is offline
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Default Unjust Enrichment

Hi everyone

I hope I am doing this correctly - never been on a forum so if not, please feel free to let me know.

My boyfriend and I purchased a house together. He had an existing mortgage on a property he had been living in before we decided to purchase the house. As the penalty to break the mortgage was significant, and because the down payment for the new house was from the proceeds of his condo at the time, the mortgage remained in his name. We had a verbal agreement that if anything happened to the relationship, he would get his initial investment back and anything between the purchase price and the market value at separation would be split 50/50.

During the course of the year we lived together, along with my three children, because my income was higher, I paid more into the household, with the knowledge that we had an agreement and that if anything happened I would be ok financially. Neither of us could have afforded the house on our own. I took care of the inside of the house, he did the outside, we shared in the responsibilities of the children.

At the time of separation, the increase in the value of the house was approximately $40,000. We had accumulated approx $20,000 in debit, most of which was his.

When the time came to discuss the house, the equity, and what would be done, I was told that I was entitled to nothing, verbal agreement nul and void. Because I had contributed more on a monthly basis than my spouse, I feel that I am entitled to something. Again, he would not have been able to support the house, the mortgage and the bills on his own, and as I stated before, I contributed more on a monthly basis.

I was told, and I have read that I am not entitled to the property because common law for property is 3 years – ok – however, I came across Unjust Enrichment and I believe that is the case here.

The house was rented, and my children and I were left homeless, with not a cent of financial help from my ex. I took some furniture mostly the childrens, and a few other things, that’s it. Not one cent has exchanged hands.

As all my income was going into a home I thought I had a portion of rights to, I had no savings, and moved into a three bedroom townhouse which I have had to furnish on my own. I am budgeted to the penny, and have no room for things like car repairs, new tires, activities for the children, clothing.

I truly feel like I entitled to something. Based on this information, would Unjust Enrichment come into play.

Unjust Enrichment

An unjust enrichment occurs where one party gains a valuable advantage from another without legal reason. The requirements for a finding of unjust enrichment are:
• one spouse has been enriched,
• there is a corresponding deprivation to the other spouse, and
• there is no legal reason for the enrichment.
The first step is to examine the parties’ common law relationship and the roles each played. A person can argue that she made a contribution, in a collaborative relationship, that ought to be compensated. She will ask for damages or an interest in her partner’s property, or both. In response, her partner may argue that she has done nothing out of the ordinary, and that she was compensated fairly during the relationship.
The contribution. A person’s contribution may have been domestic services, such as housekeeping, child care, unpaid work in her partner’s business, yard work, repairs or renovations, and may also include financial contributions, or quasi-financial contributions such as the purchase of consumables for the family.
Enrichment. As a result of a person’s efforts, has her partner improved his lot? The answer is normally yes, if he has assets, or paid off debts, or improved his property. Almost anything done for a person’s partner will have enriched him somehow.
Deprivation. This is usually the converse of the enrichment. A person will have put herself out caring for her partner’s interests and in the process will have sacrificed her own opportunities, her energy, her free time, her future, and her prospects. There is a presumption in a long-term relationship, in the absence of cogent evidence to the contrary, that the enrichment of one party has resulted in a deprivation of the other.
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Old 10-28-2011, 07:51 PM
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MiViLaLoco MiViLaLoco is offline
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For starters...the debt that accumulated while you were together. Can you prove without a shadow of a doubt it is 100% his...is it all in his name...otherwise you may are responsible for a portion of it.

or...is he paying off the part of the $20,000 debt that's in his name and your paying off the part that's in your name? Your info isn't clear on this.

Because right now it looks like $40,000 - $20,000 = $20,000 divided by 2 = $10,000.00 for you.

You also mentioned that the verbal agreement was he get back his initial investments and losses from breaking his previous mortgage. Did you calculate that to get the $40,000?

His angle on this scenario is going to be that you didn't pay 100% of the mortgage or household expense. That your contribution was no more than that of a renter.

In a way, he has a strong point. You both were contributing to the household. You made more money and you were also paying for your children.

You don't mention what the percentages were. But I'd think that you'd have to prove you were paying the lions share in order to make your arguement work. By that I mean at least 95%...of all bills. After all, he is 1 person, you are 4.

For $10,000, at the most, and the lawyer fees that may ensue you are probably better to chalk this one up to experience and walk away.

Maybe ask him for $5,000 and put it into a "rainy day" account. He may go for something like that just to avoid lawyers.

If lawyers need to be involved you will probably be spending a lot of $$$$ to make a little $ to no $ and he will be in no hurry to settle anything.

A lawyers opinion on this is going to be more than likely "from a legal standpoint, yes, you have a case". My retainer is $$$, thank you. You are going to spend way more in lawyer fees than you'll see in the end.
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Old 10-28-2011, 08:19 PM
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I'm not sure what rules would apply as you were not married and not common law - you lived together a year, not the three required to be considered common law.
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Old 10-28-2011, 08:33 PM
sadandrippedoff sadandrippedoff is offline
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All the debt except $10,000 was on his name. Of the other debt $10,000 was spent on improvements to the house and appliances and furniture.

At the time of separation yes the value of the house had increased $40,000

He decided to rent the house and not sell it, leaving the kids and I without a place to go to for a month, which was when my new home would be ready. I am currently renting. He is renting the house covering the mortgage payment and taxes. Therefore there was no cancellation fee for the mortgage as it is still existing. The house still contains all the appliances and some of the furniture.

My income was not significantly higher what I contributed extra was
approximately $800 a month. If he has told me I was a renter I would have saved the $800 a month and not contribute it to the household.

He paid the mortgage, half the taxes , half the insurance, half the car payment. I paid obviously the other half and paid all the other bills, food, gas, daycare, my own car insurance, and paid for most of what my children needed

He would not have been able to afford that house without my income

I agree about the lawyers fees which is why I have not pursued it before however I struggling financially and he has the house and the equity which is still raising.

He is covering the debt however I would be more than happy to pay for my portion. He will not give me a cent. Would not help set us up in our new home. Would not help with first and last months rent or moving expenses

I would be very happy with $5000 as a small amount to have in case of emergencies and I honestly don't think that is asking for much

Unless I can prove to him that I am entitled to something there is no way he would consider a settlement.
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Old 10-28-2011, 08:50 PM
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Ok...but you didn't answer the question of...

You say the house increased in value by $40,000. Is this after his loss from the sale of his first home and his downpayment monies? Or another way to ask...is the $40,000 what's left "after" his initial investment is taken into consideration?

...because I'm sure that after this little time he hasn't recouped any of his "initial investment" as it is still tied up in the mortgage.

...do you see where I'm going with this...

If $40,000 is the increase in value, you still need to account for his initial investment...and it is generally taken from this amount first.

So for arguement's sake...let's say his initial investment was $35,000.00

$40,000 - $35,000 = $5,000 divided by 2 = $2,500 each...

If all the debt is in his name...and he's not going after you for any of it...I'd leave things be.

You weren't common law...so as a previous poster stated, the claim of unjust enrichment won't fly in family court. You'd have to take him to small claims.
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Old 10-28-2011, 10:51 PM
sadandrippedoff sadandrippedoff is offline
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Lol sorry I'm not being clear

When I met him he had a condo and sold it and made a significant amount of money which he used part of for the down payment of the house we shared.

He still has the house / from purchase price to market value at separation there was an increase of $40,000 in the value of the house. His initial investment plus $40,000. There has been no loss and he still has the house. That's his initial investment.

I hope I understood
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Old 10-29-2011, 02:06 AM
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Ok...so after his down payment is paid back to him...there is still a value of $40,000.00 of equity left to divide...but a debt of $20,000.00.

Technically, because there is nothing in writing and you are not on title, there is really nothing you can do.

You haven't been together long enough to be common law. Period.

Unjust enrichment won't work, unless you want to try small claims court.

If it were me, I'd chaulk it up to experience and move on...thanking my lucky stars that he showed his hand early...before I'd spent any more money on "nothing".
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