Can I enforce promissory estoppel on my husband?

UPDATED: Jan 3, 2012

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Can I enforce promissory estoppel on my husband?

My husband and I split about 2 years ago and moved out while I remained in the residence with our 3 children. About 9 months ago, because of finances, I mentioned to him that the kids and I would have to move because I could no longer afford the rent. He agreed to move back in and pay a little more than half the rent. His terms were that if he came back, he was staying for good (or until our 6 year old graduated from high school). He moved back in a month later. Then last week he told me that he will be moving out as of the first of next month.

Asked on January 3, 2012 under Family Law, California


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

The elements of promissory estoppel and the ability to be able to enforce it will depend upon the law in your area.  So this question is best asked to an attorney around you.  Generally the courts will enforce a promise as binding only if injustice can be avoided.  Proving the promise is always an issue.  And although I can surely understand how you would want to keep your home, I think that you need to look at the bigger picture here.  He does not want to stay and if you try and force that it will not be a good environment for you and the kids.  Also, his moving out moving in moving out is probably having an emotional toll on the kids and that is not good. If you legally separate or divorce you are entitled to child support and possibly spousal support so see if that will help sustain you.  Or maybe down sizing is a good idea.  But do what is best for you and the kids.  Good luck. 

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