Property Division (Equalization of Property)

Toronto Property Division Lawyers

Like “custody”, property division in Ontario is also misunderstood.  Misconceptions abound, which is why it is important to have a lawyer to assist you with the complexities of property division after separation.

Property division in Ontario, properly called equalization of net family properties, involves placing all the property accumulated by parties during a marriage into a ledger and determining what payment is owed by the person who has accumulated more.  Contrary to popular belief, it is not actual division of property.

Toronto Property Division Lawyers

Currently, in family law, the “matrimonial home” takes on special importance.  The matrimonial home means the home in which the parties separated.  While spouses can have two matrimonial homes, for example, a house and a cottage, at the time of separation, a matrimonial home is not a home that was sold prior to separation.  The matrimonial home has two unique features:  first, the court can order one spouse to have exclusive possession of the home after separation.  That means that either person can have possession of the home irrespective of who owns the home.  Second, a spouse who came into the marriage cannot deduct the value of the matrimonial home, even if that spouse owned the home at the time of marriage.  Contrary to popular belief, both spouses do not “own” the matrimonial home simply because it is the family home.

Property issues more than any other issue in family law causes other issues to arise including valuation issues, pension issues, and tax issues.  Sometimes, outside professionals are required.  For example, a certified valuator may be needed to value a property; a business valuator may be needed to value a business; or pensions may need to be valued through the now streamlined method through which this is done.  Complex issues may affect pensions and it is especially important to use a lawyer when dealing with this issue. 

Property is also a very important issue in family law because, unlike custody or support, property judgments or agreements cannot be changed unless someone does not properly disclose all his or her owned property.  It is very important that all property of all kinds be disclosed to the other party (and the court when there is a case) when dealing with property issues.  You can assist a Divorce Source lawyer by being organized

It is true that there can be cases where a payment owed for equalization of net family properties is varied.  That means, instead of being 50% of the difference between the person who accumulated more and the person who accumulated less, it can be more or less than that amount.  This situation is rare, but can arise when one spouse recklessly depletes his or her assets, or runs up debts.  Common situations in which this can occur are when one spouse spends excessive amounts of money on gambling or other vices.  However, it can also occur when a business declines a lot after separation even if that decline is no one’s fault.  For the court to vary a payment, the result according to the normal formula cannot just be “unfair” but has to be “unconscionable.”  That means it has to shock the conscience of the court as to how unjust it would be.  Because of this high bar to meet, it is very difficult to establish such a claim, but there have been examples of their success in the Canadian courts.  It is, however, important to understand that it is not the court’s job to try to play “Monday morning quarterback” for everything the family spends during a marriage.  Often times, families make poor decisions and end up with a lot of debt.  However, that does not mean that an equalization payment would be unconscionable. 

Toronto Property Division Lawyers

Property issues, and equalization of net family properties, can be some of the most resource- heavy issues in a family law case.  They can require extensive disclosure and many documents to determine value.  It is important that technology is used to keep matters orderly and transparent right from the beginning of the case.  Because equalization and property division also requires documentation from the date of marriage, it is important to act very quickly to gather documents.  Sometimes, if a case goes on for a long time, and documents are forgotten about, it is very difficult to get them later.  Items like bank and credit card statements, investment statements, and other documents need to be obtained quickly and disclosed early.

The lawyers at Divorce Source can help you navigate this complex area of the law to ensure your rights are protected and you pay or receive the proper property settlement.

When you meet with a Divorce Source lawyer, we immediately assess your goals for the case, what needs to be done, and what documents you need to obtain.  Getting organized from the beginning is a critical aspect to a case to make sure costs are reduced and your property division case is handled properly.  Divorce Source provides a tailored approach to your case, as we understand that each case is unique and does not fit into a “cookie cutter” mold.  Everyone has different goals and objectives for their property case, and lawyers at Divorce Source understand that.  Divorce Source is your source for all matters relating to your property case.

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