(CN) – A husband who abandoned his wife as she battled breast cancer must contribute his share of payments she made on their common property, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled.
In the final 18 months of Janet Mandeville’s life, her husband, Frank Mandeville Jr., had no contact with her. He did not even attend her funeral.
Susan Tkachik, representing the estate of her sister, Janet, sued Frank for half of the mortgage, tax and insurance payments that Janet paid on her own.
The probate court and the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled for Frank, but the state Supreme Court reversed the decision.
“We conclude that defendant has been unjustly enriched by his retention of money or benefits which in justice and equity belong to another,” Justice Stephen Markman wrote. “Defendant owns the marital properties only because of Janet’s maintenance payments.
“Considering his willful abandonment of Janet, by which she alone became responsible for the properties, for defendant to retain the monies that preserved these properties and made his ownership possible would be unjust,” Markman added.