What Is Unjust Enrichment of a Spouse in Arizona? Spouses in Arizona make promises to one another on a regular basis. In a situation where one spouse’s promise was not upheld, however, this may become a factor in your divorce case. In Arizona, the court of appeals considered the legal theories associated with this in an actual case involving two individuals who got married in 1972. The case is Pyeatte v. Pyeatte, 135 Ariz. 346, 661 P.2d 196 (Ariz. App. 1983).

Basics of Unjust Enrichment Claims

While both spouses at that time had bachelor’s degrees, they had a verbal agreement with one another that the wife would support the husband while he obtained his law degree, at which time he would then support her while she received her master’s degree. While the husband did go to law school and they primarily used savings to support themselves during this time, the husband decided he wanted a divorce before the wife had the opportunity to obtain her master’s degree.

Since the wife did not qualify for spousal support, she instead asked the Arizona divorce court to make her husband pay the value of his promise to her or the total funds it would take for her to get her master’s degree. There are complex legal issues at play in cases like this and the court of appeals had to first determine whether or not this was an enforceable contract. In this particular case, the court determined that the contract wasn’t specific enough to be enforced.

No Contract? What About Unjust Enrichment?

Despite the court’s opinion about the contract, the wife argued that the husband was unjustly enriched by her assistance that she provided to pay for him to go to law school. She instead asked for reimbursement for what she had invested in his career. If you provide services to another individual that is part of an agreement that you believe to be valid, but the agreement ultimately turns out not to be valid, the other person can be classified as unjustly enriched.

While the court of appeals in Arizona determined that the couple’s agreement wasn’t clear enough to be enforced as a contract, it did support the wife’s claim for unjust enrichment. If you believe that your divorce case is similar  to this situation, you need to consult with a knowledgeable Arizona divorce attorney as soon as possible. There are many complex factors involved in a case like this and it is a very nuanced argument not usually presented. You need to work with an attorney you can trust from start to finish. Do not hesitate to get advice from an Arizona family lawyer immediately.

This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding What Is Unjust Enrichment of a Spouse in Arizona?, or other family law issues, please feel free to contact Barry C. Dickerson at 480.461.5300, log on to udallshumway.com, or contact an attorney in your area. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools, and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.