Do I have any recourse to claim damages in my son’s divorce?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Do I have any recourse to claim damages in my son’s divorce?

My son got divorced last month. It was amicable. My husband and I spent $85,000 to build an add

on apartment. The wife got the house and we have no place to live. Do I have any claim to some compensation?

Asked on March 14, 2019 under Family Law, New York


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

No, you do not have any recourse, unless you had a written agreement with your son's wife (or with your son and his wife) that stated that if you could not occupy the unit, she (or they) would repay you the construction cost. Unfortunately, paying money for your own benefit (i.e. for an add-on apartment to live in) does not give you the right to compensation without a written agreement; you cannot obligate people to reimburse you for costs unless they agree to. This was a risk you took, unfortunately, in spending money to add onto someone else's house; without some written agreement, there was always the chance the home would be sold (which they could have done without your consent, and you would have received no portion of the sale price), would have burned down (and you would be left homeless without any part of the homeowner's insurance proceeds), etc. Without an agreement, there was never any protection for you in case something happened to the home.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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