Dear Mrs Macaulay,
I have a 37-year-old daughter for a prominent businessman in Kingston. We have had a relationship for over 38 years; not always an intimate one, but I cared for his children and helped him out whenever I was available. He is now sick and lives alone and initially invited me to come from the United States (US) to stay for three weeks. I live there, and I am a citizen. I came and saw his situation, so afterwards when he asked me to quit my job and come care for him and he would compensate me, I took up the offer. I gave up my apartment, returned my 2020 leased BMW, gave away my furniture and most of my 18 years' possessions whilst living in the US. Now that I am here permanently, he is treating me like garbage and wants me out of his house. I am now in a different part of the house and I am seeking advice.
I keep on being amazed by how many women make decisions which may adversely affect their life plans and their financial interests without treating it in the businesslike way such decisions ought to be treated. This is not to say that there may not be legal protection of their interests, as that you can recoup and be compensated for through a court action. This would of course depend on the circumstances and facts surrounding your move back to Jamaica and the duties you took up as the caregiver for your child's father.
As you must know, it is always better and makes life easier to have a written contract with the terms of what the parties agreed between them, in case there is a breakdown of the arrangements. You also must know that oral agreements/arrangements between parties can be just as binding as written ones. They are proved not only by evidence of the verbal discussions and what was actually verbally agreed, but also from evidence of the actions of both the parties following such agreement. The court will weigh whether the actions support the evidence of the parties about their discussions and what they had agreed.
So, what I am saying is that you do have a cause of action. You must however retain the services of a lawyer to act on your behalf to whom you must relate the full discussions you and your child's father had, what exactly was agreed, and everything you did following your agreement. You must give the details of how much he said he would compensate you for leaving your job and life in the USA to return to Jamaica and take up duties as his caregiver. You should take with you any supporting documents you have about quitting your job, how much you were being paid, the disposal of your possessions, for example the return of your car, receipts for giving away your furniture to charitable institutions or the particulars of persons who were recipients of some from you, and the value or approximate value of them — in fact, any document or person who can be contacted to attest on your behalf and any shipping receipts and your flight receipts or ticket stubs.
The fact that you are of sound body and mind will also be relevant, as well as when you arrived and how long you cared for him and the details about what caused a breakdown of the arrangements, and exactly what his treatment of you is, which you describe as garbage. You should state the details of how you are living, because the judge in weighing the evidence will consider whether your actions were reasonable and fit with the facts of what you say was agreed, which led you to give up your life of 18 years, including your job in the US, and to travel here and go to his house to reside and work there. I do believe that you have a very good chance to succeed in making your claim against him in court.
You must therefore make up your mind that you may have to go through the entire process of having to make your claim against this man for all the losses you have sustained by agreeing to his request that you quit your job, and pack up and leave your life in the USA and come and take care of him. So you must get a lawyer and tell that lawyer everything and give them what documents you may have (make copies of each for yourself and make sure that they are listed in a receipt when you hand them over to the lawyer and keep your copy safe).
Your lawyer may decide to write a letter to him before any action. This will inform him of the claims the lawyer intends to make against him on your behalf to the court, if he fails to agree to settle or make an offer of settlement by a certain date. It is therefore possible that there may be a settlement of your claim(s) without the matter having to be tried in court.
This is what you must do if you expect to recoup and obtain any compensation for any losses you have suffered as a consequence of the contract/arrangement between you and this man and for payment for the care services you have rendered which may still remain unpaid. Your only choice of action is to get a lawyer to deal with your claim against him, and if God forbid he dies before this is all settled, you will still need a lawyer to place your claim against his estate through his executors or administrator(s). You should act now, as quickly as possible, as it would be best to claim and proceed against him while he is alive, as your discussions and agreements were verbal. So act now.
The contents of this article are for informational purposes only, and must not be relied upon as an alternative to legal advice from your own attorney.
Margarette May Macaulay is an attorney-at-law, Supreme Court mediator, notary public, and women's and children's rights advocate. Send questions via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org; or write to All Woman, 40-42 1/2 Beechwood Avenue, Kingston 5. All responses are published. Mrs Macaulay cannot provide personal responses.