Unjust Enrichment and Constructive or Resulting Trusts

CONSTRUCTIVE OR RESULTING TRUSTS ARE A BURGEONING AREA OF FAMILY LAW. YOU NEED TO KNOW IF A TRUST MAY APPLY TO YOUR SITUATION.

In Alberta, there are many situations where a common law spouse may be entitled to a share of the other spouse’s assets under the legal doctrine of unjust enrichment. The law in this area is very fact specific and constantly evolving; however, the basic analysis starts with determining whether one spouse has benefited financially from the relationship, while the other spouse suffered a corresponding loss of financial position. If you think this type of law applies to you, be prepared to discuss all of the contributions of both spouses during the common law cohabitation.

The Court will examine many factors, including, how long the parties were together; what roles each played in the relationship; whether there were children; and most importantly, what each party contributed to the property acquired during the relationship.

In assessing all of these factors, the Court will determine whether one party was “unjustly enriched”. Did that party suffer a deprivation because of the relationship; was the other party deprived in a corresponding manner; and is there a legal reason to justify the enrichment of the first party?

For example, if a common law couple built up a farming operation, a Judge adjudicating the dissolution of their relationship would look at the contributions each made. If one of them primarily looked after the household and children, indirectly allowing the other spouse to enhance the operation, he or she could expect to receive fair monetary compensation for those contributions.

At GDE FAMILY LAW, we are experienced in the area of law known as unjust enrichment; and can ensure a reasonable and sensible settlement on your behalf.