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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 07-29-2010, 08:44 AM
Mark Grant Mark Grant is offline
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Default Common Law 11 months, she wants half

I'm in a bit of a bind here and I'd like some feedback on just how deep a hole might be in.

Our common law relationship has broken down after 11 months together. We bought a house together as co-owners and joint tenants and moved in together in Nov. 2009. She always maintained that she was not the kind of person that would try to take half my house if our relationship broke down but she did not want to move in together with me as the sole owner and able to, in a worst case, throw her out. So, we bought the house together.

Now we've come to an end and she is entrenched in her position that she wants half the value of the house - for which I provided 100% of the down payment, closing costs and legal fees as well as the sole payor of the mortgage and property taxes to date.

Does anyone have any insights or experience with this and a possible way out? I cannot afford to buy her out, and I do not relish the idea of losing half the money I put into the house.

Help - Mark
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Old 07-29-2010, 09:50 AM
Mess Mess is offline
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Google "Unjust Enrichment". Go to Canlii and use that as search term. Read about it. Calm down. Tell her to go jump in the lake.

The fact that you put her name on the property weakens your case but it doesn't destroy it. You have a case, but you have to argue it well. Don't depend on the internet, go to a proper divorce lawyer with experience in contentious property issues.
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Old 07-29-2010, 10:30 AM
Mark Grant Mark Grant is offline
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Default Common Law 11 months, she wants half

Thanks Mess. I appreciate the input. I'm heartened that as a responded to my post you're familiar with Canlii. I'm familiar with "unjust enrichment" as I have researched Canlii and found this reference many times in different contexts. I was unsure if this could be used as a "two-way" street as all of the jurisprudence I've found related to arguments in support of the greater having been unjustly enriched by the activities or contributions of the lesser.

If unjust enrichment an be used to argue that her demand for half would unjustly enrich her at my expense, then this is a little light at the end of the tunnel.

I can't tell from your reply how experienced you are in this sort of thing Mess but, on the off chance that you are a professional with experience, can you provide some insight into whether you believe Gaunt v. Woudenberg (also in Canlii - Ontario Superior Court 2005) could be considered precedent case law where eerily similar facts and circumstances exist?

Mark
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Old 07-29-2010, 10:40 AM
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Tell her to get bent.

If you can prove that you paid the down payment on the house (bank records should show it), you are entitled to receive that money back in the event of equalization. She would be entitled to any increase in value of the house since date of purchase, as she was a co-owner.

It works out like this:

(Value of the house now - purchase price) - your deposit = amount to be distributed.

I would simply tell her "no, you are entitled to 1/2 of any growth in the value of house over and above the purchase price from the date of purchase. You are not entitled to 1/2 of my deposit. Should you want to proceed in this manner, I suggest you get a lawyer, cause I'll see you in court."
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Old 07-29-2010, 11:43 PM
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Someone correct me if I'm wrong but, assuming you're in Ontario, common law is defined as:

"For Ontario family law purposes, you must cohabit 3 years, or have a child and a relationship of some permanence."

You don't say in your post that you have children together so I am assuming you don't and that may change the way your house issue gets sorted out.
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Old 07-29-2010, 11:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blinkandimgone View Post
Someone correct me if I'm wrong but, assuming you're in Ontario, common law is defined as:

"For Ontario family law purposes, you must cohabit 3 years, or have a child and a relationship of some permanence."

You don't say in your post that you have children together so I am assuming you don't and that may change the way your house issue gets sorted out.

True Blinkandiamgone but she is on the title which makes her claim prominent
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Old 07-29-2010, 11:54 PM
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Perhaps, but not as a common law spouse I don't believe. If the financials were provided 100% by him and he has proof of that then her name being on the titel would hold a loss less weight, I would think.
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Old 07-30-2010, 07:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blinkandimgone View Post
Perhaps, but not as a common law spouse I don't believe. If the financials were provided 100% by him and he has proof of that then her name being on the titel would hold a loss less weight, I would think.
Yes but she is listed as co-owner/joint tenant so if they were common law or not it doesn't matter. She is legally half owner of the house no matter what the personal relationship is.
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Old 07-30-2010, 08:50 AM
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There is no matrimonial home in a common law relationship so that part just doesn't matter. They could be business partners or relatives who lived in different towns and decided to buy a cottage together.

The issue is, They agreed to buy a house jointly, 11 months later the partnership breaks down, but one party has not invested a cent in the property.

The spoken intention was that the joint ownership was to protect her tenancy. This will be tough because by you couldn't have thrown her out arbitrarily anyway, she has some protections as a resident of the building. You obviously didn't realize this, so you went ahead and signed over half ownership without checking your rights with a lawyer.

I am saying she is unjustly enriched because she has achieved half ownership of a property with no investment of her own. Her ownership has resulted purely from your input. Flip this over in your mind for a second, lets say she went to court and got exclusive possession based on some fake charge of domestic assault and got your thrown out. So now due to your work and money, she has a house. You didn't see the connection to other cases of unjust enrichment but the facts of it are really the same. If she claims half the value with 0 input, this is the same issue as someone else claiming 100% of the value with only 90% input, it is still unjust enrichment.
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Old 07-30-2010, 12:07 PM
Mark Grant Mark Grant is offline
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Mess, Blink, Standing et al,

Thank you for the input. I was never under the illusion that I would be able to end this and extricate myself from this easily and painlessly however, until recently, I did suffer under the illusion that she would stand by her word at the beginning of the purchase process that she wasn't the type of person that lay claim to half just because she was on the title. My bad.

Things are slighly less muddy now than. I may not be facing financial armageddon here but it's still going to severely impact me. I guess what I have to decide now is if I want to swallow my inherent sense that this is unjust and unfair and try to buy her out for between $5K - $10-K or spend between $5K - $10K fighting this in the hope I can find a good divorce lawyer that can convince a judge that her claim is unjust and unfair and she has no legitimate claim to trust in the house on the basis of her own statements.

Please keep your comments, observations and opinions coming, I find them both interesting and valuable. Thanks.

Mark
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