Think about whether to make an unjust enrichment claim

We're not married. What happens to our property and debts if we separate?
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Think about whether to make an unjust enrichment claim

Since common-law partners usually don't get a share of each other’s property, you have to prove why you should be given a share.

A claim based on unjust enrichment means that it would be unfair to allow your partner to leave the relationship without sharing their property. This can be very hard to prove.

To make this claim, you have to show that:

  • you contributed to the property,
  • your partner benefited from your contribution, and
  • there is no reason for your partner to keep this benefit.

You may have made a direct contribution to the property. Some examples include:

  • you paid for a new roof on a house owned by your partner
  • you built a deck on a house owned by your partner
  • you managed all the bookkeeping for your partner's business
  • you cared for the children and home which allowed your partner to spend time and money growing their business
  • you paid all the household bills and your partner put all their money into savings

You may have made an indirect contribution to the property. Some examples include:

  • you cared for the children and home which allowed your partner to spend time and money growing their business
  • you paid all the household bills and your partner put all their money into savings

If you can show an unjust enrichment claim, you don’t always get half of the value of the property. The law considers what your fair share would be.

Usually this can be paid by money. Sometimes if money is not enough, you can be given a direct interest in the property you contributed to. For example, the court can order that you own one-third of the house and your partner owns the other two-thirds.

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​CLEO (Community Legal Education Ontario)
Reviewed: July 31, 2017

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