Hello: This isCustomer I am a licensed Attorney and I will be assisting you today.My father and mother promised me land of theirs. My (now ex) husband and I began to build a house. We invested over $25000 before he took it back over and refused to allow us to finish. I had to live in a womans shelter for over 8 months due to this with my 5 children. I suffered a mental breakdown that resulted in psyciatric hospitalization and I am now disabled because of the stress of this. I want the money back and/or a house to live in.Response:
I am sorry to read about your difficulties. You need to file lawsuit against your parents for return of the $25,000.00 invested. However, if you do not have any written agreement, it would be your word against your parents. Also and more importantly, because of Statute of Frauds, your oral agreement with your parents may not be enforceable. Statute of Frauds requires any transaction dealing with real estate to be in writing in order to be enforceable. However, the Statue of Frauds requirements could be overcome using Promissory Estoppel and implied contract theories of Unjust Enrichment and Detrimental Reliance.
Promissory Estoppel is a tool used to defeat an argument that an agreement is not enforceable because it is not in writing. This doctrine is used to obtain an equitable remedy—to argue that it will be unfair not to enforce a verbal agreement with someone because you have already done something/performed your side of agreement and therefore that the Court must not allow the other party to back out of the verbal agreement and that fairness demands that your verbal agreement be enforced. In this case that your parents follow through with their promise to give you the land or refund the $25,000.00 spent on building the house.
Using Unjust Enrichment theory, it should be argued that your parents should comply with your oral agreement because you have already invested $25,000.00 in the building of the house when your father changed his mind, or in the alternative, that your parents should be forced to refund the money already spent on the house.
Using Detrimental Reliance, it should be argued that because you relied on your parents' promise to give you the land and started to build a house and spent $25,000.00 on the project--that you incurred expenses that you have not incurred but for the promise and thus your parents should be forced to honor the promise or refund the $25,000.00 to you.
You can obtain complaint forms to file the lawsuit at your local Courthouse or download the forms online from the Courts web site:https://www.vermontjudiciary.org/masterpages/Court-Forms-Civil.aspx
In the alternative, you can try to find local legal aid that may assist you. You can start with this web site:http://www.vtlawhelp.org/