Expertise / Family Unjust Enrichment

Whether you’re the one who wants to pursue a claim for unjust enrichment, or the one who has been served with a claim for unjust enrichment, we’re here to help.

While many questions can be answered with the help of the guides, sample letters and forms in our legal toolkit, an independent jurist affiliated with PSP Legal will always be happy to help you by answering any questions you may have.

Of course, if you prefer to have an experienced practitioner take charge of your situation and intervene directly and quickly on your behalf, you can also request that one of the independent jurists affiliated with PSP Legal represent you by clicking here.

 

What is unjust enrichment?

The Civil Code of Québec provides that a person may obtain compensation when he or she has contributed goods or services to enrich the patrimony of another person while impoverishing himself or herself. This constitutes unjustified enrichment.

 

Unjust enrichment and de facto spouses

Unjust enrichment is a legal action that can be taken by de facto spouses in the event of separation. Since compensatory allowance is reserved for spouses and civil union spouses, common-law spouses can make a claim for unjust enrichment to obtain compensation in cases that allow it.

This is therefore the only possibility for a person in a de facto union to obtain compensation upon separation for the contribution of goods or services to his or her spouse’s patrimony, which would have impoverished him or her. The purpose of this recourse is to re-establish a balance between the assets of each spouse. For example, a de facto spouse who has provided domestic services without remuneration could consider this recourse.

This recourse may be exercised by the de facto spouse alone, or it may be combined with an application for custody and determination of child support. This application must be filed within 3 years of the cessation of cohabitation.

 

Unjustified enrichment: the 6 criteria

1-Enrichment

The person making the claim must prove the enrichment of his or her spouse, that this enrichment still exists at the time the claim is filed, and that this enrichment is appreciable in money. This enrichment may consist of services rendered to the spouse without remuneration, a material increase in assets or avoided expenses

2-Enrichment

In addition, the claimant spouse must prove his or her impoverishment in order to receive compensation for unjust enrichment. For example, this impoverishment could be a decrease in the claimant’s patrimony or a loss of earnings caused by an unpaid service rendered.

3-Correlation

There must also be a link between the claimant’s impoverishment and his or her spouse’s enrichment. Proof of a correlation between the two is therefore required.

4-Lack of justification

Unjust enrichment must not be justified or be the result of the application of the law. Indeed, if the act that caused the impoverishment is done because of a legal obligation or if the person does it for his or her own personal interest, compensation for unjust enrichment cannot be awarded.

5-No other remedy

An action for unjust enrichment will only be possible where there are no other remedies provided by law that could restore the situation.

6-Absence of fraud

Once the above-mentioned criteria have been demonstrated, the de facto spouse may obtain compensation corresponding to the lesser of enrichment or impoverishment.

 

Presumptions

In order to lighten the burden of proof, there are certain presumptions arising from jurisprudence that can be invoked by de facto spouses in an unjust enrichment action. Firstly, a long period of cohabitation gives rise to a presumption that there is a correlation between the impoverishment of the plaintiff spouse and the enrichment of his or her spouse. Moreover, a long duration of de facto union will also make it possible to presume that there was an absence of justification. Consequently, the claimant spouse will simply have to prove the other criteria.

 

How we can help

Our legal toolkit includes a variety of online resources and links to templates and guides to help you better understand your obligations.

However, should the Legal Toolkit prove insufficient in your situation, you can obtain additional assistance by speaking with one of PSP Legal’s affiliated jurists:

Of course, if you prefer to have an experienced practitioner handle your situation, you can always request that one of the independent jurists affiliated with PSP Legal intervene on your behalf by clicking here. He or she will then be able to intervene directly and rapidly on your behalf by:

  • Preparing, negotiating and drafting applications, procedures or any other legal documents related to your situation;
  • Assisting and advising you on your legal rights and obligations;
  • Representing you before the courts when legal action is taken;
  • Guiding you through the choices available to you, leading to a fair and satisfactory solution.

 

PSP Legal, because you deserve expert advice!

 

 

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