Some family disputes between warring spouses can be terribly nasty but they take a backseat to the ugliness of the case of Jafar-Gholizadeh v. Larijani 2018 BCSC 279 which shows the worst of an adult daughter pitted against her long-suffering mother over the purchase of a home.
Mother Nasrin Jafar-Gholizadeh, age 58 at the time of the dispute, had three children: Samaneh, age 36; Honey, age 33; and Keon, age 26. In 2002, the family operated a hookah lounge/tea house business where the spouses worked. Samaneh was on her own and in university at the time the business commenced but moved back into the family’s rental premises in 2003. By 2007 she had a university degree and was employed. She loaned her mother and father $10,000 and they purchased a condominium, a debt that was quickly repaid to her.
In 2008 Samaneh’s parents separated. The children including Samaneh remained with their mother. Nasrin purchased her husband’s interest in the hookah lounge and continued to operate it until 2015, when it closed down. From time to time the children assisted with the operation, happy to work for tips.
After her divorce in 2009 Nasrin decided to buy a home in Burnaby which she registered in the names of herself and her daughter Samaneh as joint tenants, after Nasrin realized that her income was not sufficient to obtain a mortgage on her own. Nasrin also borrowed $23,000 from Samaneh to satisfy her debt to her ex-husband as a result of the divorce settlement. Samaneh resided in the home until 2011 after which the relationship between mother and daughter became estranged with only limited email communication. Later Nasrin was not even aware of where her daughter was living.
In the Fall of 2011 Nasrin began receiving abusive vitriolic emails from Samaneh with respect to the second loan, which her mother repaid with interest in October 2011.
Life became even more complicated when the mortgage signed by Nasrin and Samaneh came up for renewal in November 2014. Without Samaneh’s signature, Nasrin was in a difficult position, a situation she resolved by signing Samaneh’s name to the mortgage renewal documents. At trial she readily admitted that what she did was wrong and expressed sincere remorse.
Samaneh became aware of the “forgery” when she tried to obtain a mortgage for herself and was unable to because of her previous mortgage commitment. This is when the conflict escalated with Samaneh threatening to call the police and alleging that her mother had “screwed her forever”. She also regretted signing on the mortgage alleging she had now lost any first-home owner discount otherwise available to her. This is when she demanded her mother sell the home and pay Samaneh her one-half.
Samaneh hired a lawyer who proposed that for one-half of the sale proceeds, his client would agree to forgo a claim for past wages for her work in the hookah business, in the amount of $80,000, and drop her “forgery” claim. By this time the home was assessed at $1,164,600 with a mortgage of $605,000.
The Court determined that the outcome of the case hinged on the credibility of the parties, finding that Samaneh’s evidence was not credible. The judge rejected Samaneh’s assertions that:
1. She was an integral part of the decision to purchase the home and helped find a suitable home;
2. That she and her mother discussed that she would be entitled to 50% of the house in exchange for working for free at the family business and providing loans to her mother;
3. That she had offered to make mortgage payments but her mother said that wasn’t necessary while a loan was outstanding.
Apart from the evidence of Nasrin and the other adult children it is apparent from the Reasons that Samaneh’s abusive emails weighed against her. The Court reproduced scurrilous excerpts to provide the flavour of her rage and hostility toward her mother.
The Court found that Nasrin had made all the mortgage payments, property tax payments, and paid all other expenses to maintain the home. She had also expended $100,000 on home renovations. Nonetheless, while the court held that Samaneh’s half-interest was held in trust for her mother, the judge recognized that Samaneh’s “gift” to her mother of co-signing the mortgage was a valuable contribution which had produced consequences not expected by Samaneh. The Court ordered Nasrin to pay Samaneh 10% of the net sale proceeds of the home.
She also awarded costs to Nasrin based on the untrue and misleading evidence led by her daughter.
How many friendships and family relationships have come undone because of financial arrangements not committed to writing? It would have been so simple for Nasrin and Samaneh to sign a document that explicitly set out the terms of Samaneh’s participation in the purchase of her mother’s home.
One would have more sympathy for Samaneh had she not resorted to “gutter” language in her dealings with her mother, but the final result was based on the judge’s finding of facts and the law on trusts.
Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang