How Does Division of Property Work in Ontario? As a marriage is considered by the court to be an equal economic partnership, all property that was acquired over the course of that partnership is considered to be equally owned by both parties. In the case of a divorce, this means that each party is entitled to one half of this acquired property, or one half its value minus any debts or other liabilities. In this legal sense, property is defined as everything you acquired over the course of your marriage. This difference in net worth from the time of the marriage to the time of the divorce is known as “net family property” and can include cars, real estate, businesses, bank accounts, stocks, investments, pensions, and household/personal items.
The laws governing the division of property in Ontario only applies to legal marriages. Although most laws involving separation apply equally to legal marriages and common-law relationships, the laws that concern property are different. This means that this legal division of property only happens during divorces, not during the separation of common-law relationships.
Division of property can also be dealt with in a separation agreement. Although both spouses are entitled to one half of the net family property, they can choose their own way to divide their property through a separation agreement.
Is Any Property Excluded?
Only property that was acquired through your equal partnership with your spouse is considered in the division of property. Property that is exempted includes:
- Insurance payments as a result of the death of family or friends
- Gifts received from a person other than your spouse
- Cash settlements given as a result of a personal injury
- Property that was inherited by you during your marriage
If you have any doubts about if any of your property is excluded from the division of property, you should ask a family lawyer experienced in property rights and divorce law.
What Are Equalization Payments?
In a divorce, even though each spouse keeps their own property, the value of any property that was acquired over the course of the marriage is divided 50-50. At the time of the divorce, the net family property is calculated for each spouse. If one spouse holds more property than the other, then they must pay an equalization payment to make up that difference. Though usually in the form of money, it can also be paid with other kinds of property. This can be stipulated as part of a separation agreement.
Although the division of property is usually settled at the time of the divorce, each spouse has up to six years after a separation or two years after a divorce to make an equalization payment claim.
What about the Matrimonial Home?
The residence you and your spouse lived in together is called the matrimonial home. This is treated somewhat differently than other forms of property when calculating the net family property.
Unlike with other forms of property (in this case, real estate), each spouse is entitled to one half of the matrimonial home’s entire value, not just the increase in its value since the marriage date. As this can include more than one residence (a jointly used cottage, for example), this may greatly increase the size of an equalization payment on the side of whoever will retain ownership of the property after the divorce.
Division of property can be one of the most confusing and stressful aspects of divorce law, which is why seek an experienced family lawyer. Baidwan & Baidwan Lawyers LLP is a full-service law firm that specializes in family, criminal, and real estate law. With our extensive experience in divorce negotiations and real estate law, Baidwan & Baidwan is well equipped to assist you in protecting your property. Call us at 905-230-8888 for an initial consultation.