Matrimonial Property Division and Family Property Division
Splitting up the assets and debts after separation can be one a most confusing things for separating spouses.
The law says that all of the assets and debts that are accumulated during the time the spouses were married should be divided 50-50. This includes, but is not limited to, houses and condos, businesses, bank accounts, investments and pensions. There are however some exceptions to this rule. Assets that were inherited, gifts from third parties, and money received by one spouse in a legal action during the relationship may be exempt from the 50-50 rule. Also, any assets or debts that a spouse had before the parties started living together may be exempt from the 50-50 rule. However, any increase in value of exempt assets is potentially divisible between the parties. Also, property that was exempt and then put into joint names may become divisible between the parties. In addition, British Columbia has new laws which make property and assets accumulated during a common law relationship divisible on a 50-50 basis. These issues are complex and legal advice is highly recommended.
Moreover, sometimes just assessing the value of assets and debts can be complicated. Determining the value of a business may require the assistance of a professional business valuator. Houses, paintings and jewelry may need to be appraised. A pension may need to be assessed by an actuary. Therefore, we sometimes work with professionals in these areas to assist in determining the true value of family property.
Furthermore, high net-worth spouses with significant assets may benefit from our team approach. In such cases we offer multiple lawyers working together as a team to deal with various aspects of the file including discovery of income and assets, interim court applications for spousal support, and coordinating with expert valuators and forensic accountants.
Also, in Alberta there is no legislation prescribing the method for dividing up property between common-law couples and the law of unjust enrichment is used. This is a highly complex area of law filled with discretion and a spouse may be entitled to 50% or 0% depending on the circumstances. Generally, the more a common-law relationship resembles a marriage the more likely that property will be divided near the 50-50 mark.
At Crossroads Law, we have dealt with hundreds of matrimonial property division cases. We know how to determine your entitlement to property and assets and can help you discover the assets and debts of your partner, even if they have been hidden. If you would like a consultation on matrimonial property division please contact us.