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Understanding property division during a divorce in Ontario

When a couple is married, the law states that each spouse is responsible for earning income, childcare and household management. This equal partnership ends when a separation or divorce occurs. The wealth acquired during the marriage will need to be divided. The wealth will need to be divided, but how is that accomplished when some things are simply not dividable?

Everything is assigned a value at marriage and then again at separation. A formula determines who owes who what. For example, it may not matter who owned the family home prior to the marriage. If there was no agreement ahead of time, all are considered marital. Home furnishings, real estate, stocks and bonds purchased after marriage and art collections are all considered marital property. Is anything excluded from a person's wealth?

Yes, there are three things that are considered separate wealth and are not included in the marriage. These are money received from a personal injury case, money from an insurance policy because of someone's death and inheritances and gifts received from someone besides your spouse while you were married.

The value of your debt matters, too. This includes credit card bills, mortgage balance, car loans and more are to be included in the valuation of your wealth.

As you can see, the process for dividing property can be quite complex. However, the court will allow a husband and wife to agree on a different division of assets and debts. This is where your divorce lawyer can be very helpful as he or she can negotiate with your soon-to-be ex on your behalf. Instead of possibly paying out a substantial amount of money, you might be able to give your spouse more property instead.

However, if no agreement can be made, then the court will determine the issue. This might or might not be favorable to you.

Source: Ministry of the Attorney General, "What you should know about family law in Ontario," accessed Oct. 02, 2015

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