Ontario Civil

Family Law


Determination of ownership of property

Mother's gift of $1.7 million to parties jointly was fatal to any unjust enrichment claims

Parties were in common-law relationship for four years. During relationship parties purchased house in joint tenancy where man's mother could live with them, and mother provided gift of $1,700,000 toward purchase of house. Woman was only one working and she agreed to obtain mortgage of $1,000,000 for balance of purchase price. Man's mother died and property mother owned and property she owned jointly with son were sold. Man paid off mortgage with proceeds of sale. Parties opened joint bank account and man deposited $800,000 into account. Issue concerned woman's entitlement to 50 percent interest in home occupied by parties during latter part of their cohabitation and man's claim for credit in respect of funds used by him to retire joint debt incurred by parties to facilitate purchase of home. Woman was awarded 50 percent interest in property but not joint account. Man appealed. Appeal allowed in part. Woman was entitled to 50 percent legal and beneficial interest in property and application judge was justified in ordering it be listed for sale and proceeds equally divided between parties. Application judge did not err in finding that mother gifted $1.7 million to parties jointly and this factual finding was fatal to any unjust enrichment claims. There were difficulties with application judge's analysis of man's resulting trust claim in respect to $1 million repayment of joint line of credit. There was evidence man did not intend his repayment of line of credit constitute gift to wife. Resulting trust arose in relation to man's repayment of wife's share of joint debt under line of credit. Man was to be credited $500,000.
Chechui v. Nieman (2017), 2017 CarswellOnt 13119, 2017 ONCA 669, G.R. Strathy C.J.O., E.A. Cronk J.A., and S.E. Pepall J.A. (Ont. C.A.); reversed (2016), 2016 CarswellOnt 7547, 2016 ONSC 1905, Hood J. (Ont. S.C.J.).


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