Property Issues

Although there are some similarities in the principles, there is a big difference in the law respecting property settlements where parties have been married, or in an unmarried partnership.

On the breakdown of a marriage, the Family Law Act dictates a formula for the “equalization of Net Family Properties”. In very broad terms, this means you get to keep the value of what you owned before marriage, and share the increase in the value of property acquired during the marriage, net of debts. There are exceptions and exclusions for gifts, inheritances, and personal injury settlements, the details of which need to be fully explored in consultation with legal counsel. The principles may be simple, but the application of them is often not. “Property” means everything of value, including pensions, homes, cottages, investments, snowmobiles….. everything.

On the breakdown of a commonlaw relationship, the Family Law Act does not apply. Here you have to look at who owns what, and how it was acquired. Principles of legal title and “fairness” come into play. Property issues tend to be much more difficult in commonlaw situations.

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