Other Family Issues

questions & answers

Question: One year after my wife died, I asked my new girlfriend to move in my home with me. She has been with me three years and now I want her out of my house. Am I liable to give her compensation?

Answer:

Assuming you did not marry this woman, or have children with her, then this is not really a family law question in the first place. Arizona does not recognize common law marriage. Rather, two related questions will focus on whether: (1) there was a "partnership" contract - express or implied - that your girlfriend can ask the court to enforce; and/or (2) whether her contributions to the increased value of your real estate entitles her to a lien or compensation. She may not need to prove one theory in order to win on the other.

Some good starting points for your consideration are the Arizona Supreme Court's decisions in Cross v. Cross, 94 Ariz. 28, 381 P.2d 573 (1963), Cook v. Cook, 142 Ariz. 573, 691 P.2d 664 (1984), and Carroll v. Lee, 148 Ariz. 10, 712 P.2d 923 (1986). The law libraries at UA and ASU will have copies of these decisions, and you may be able to find a free online service that provides a copy by plugging in either of the citations that I provided above.

So, for example, if she invested her money or labor into maintaining or improving your home, or assisted with mortgage/utility payments, then your girlfriend may claim that she is entitled to a lien on the residence for her contribution to the value of the real estate. As you will see from the Cross decision, the lack of a marital relationship may not matter. Or, if the two of you agreed (by your words *or* actions) that you would share in the benefits and expenses during your relationship, then the Cook decision may provide her some relief, too. Much will depend on what the two of you said to each other at the time, the work you each performed (or paid for) on the real estate itself, and how much that work (if any) improved the value of your asset. Your question does not provide those kinds of details, so it is difficult to answer your inquiry for sure. But at minimum, remember that a contract need not be expressly stated. A court could determine from your actions - as much as your words - whether the two of you acted in concert pursuant to an unspoken agreement. You will definitely want to consult with a civil lawyer on this issue, preferably one who specializes in contract law!

Comments:

QUESTIONS

  • One year after my wife died, I asked my new girlfriend to move in my home with me. She has been with me three years and now I want her out of my house. Am I liable to give her compensation?

STORIES

  • He told me that I could actually get all the money I needed by using my home as collateral. . .
  • Age discrimination in the workplace. . .
  • I just helped my mother, age 89, deal with her Medicare HMO. . .

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