Nobody enjoys losing property to a divorce, but the division of property is an inevitable and necessary part of the process.
Worried your ex will take everything? Angry they might get half? We can help you understand what you do and don’t stand to lose, and will help you negotiate an asset division that you can live with.
If you are forced into divorce litigation, we will work hard to make sure the division of assets is as fair as possible.
You might not keep everything you want to keep, but we’ll help ensure that you’re in the best possible position to make a solid start.
How is property divided in an Abbotsford divorce?
Each spouse has a right to a share of 50% of the marital property.
For the most part they are entitled to this amount regardless of who has the greatest financial need (which is handled by spousal support) or the behavior of either party during the marriage. Abbotsford courts do not care who is at-fault for the divorce, or who behaved badly to whom.
What is marital property?
Marital property is any property that you attained from the date of the marriage to the date of your divorce.
This includes all assets: real property, furniture, cars, boats, RVs, retirement accounts, investment accounts, cash, collectibles, businesses, and more.
Of course, dividing this property is almost never as simple as liquidating them and writing a check. In addition, there are some instances where the definition of martial property is not as clear-cut as either party might like.
Most disputes happen both over what should and should not be considered marital property and over who should get what. Creating an equitable distribution of property can be challenging, especially if both parties want control over the same asset.
What is excluded property?
Excluded property is any property that either party owned prior to the marriage. It also covers other property, such as:
- Personal injury settlements
- Gifts from people other than your spouse
To exclude property you must provide evidence as to the origins of that property. You must also be able to show that you did not take any actions that converted the property to marital property. For example, if you take a non-marital bank account and put it into your spouse’s name then the courts will treat that asset as a gift given to the spouse, not as excluded property.
Finally, you should be aware that only the initial value of excluded property is protected. If the value of that property has increased during the course of the marriage then the increase would be treated as marital property. For example, if you had an excluded retirement account with $10,000 in it and during the course of the marriage grew that into an $100,000 account, then only the first $10,000 is excluded. The other $90,000 is considered to be marital property.
Disputes over what property should be excluded can become quite heated and complex. Our team will work hard to protect your claim to any assets which might be legally excluded from division.
Is it always a 50/50 split?
For the most part, you will receive a 50/50 split. However, there are some key instances where the court recognizes that a 50/50 split would be very unfair. It might be unfair to split assets 50/50 when:
- One of the spouses caused a significant increase or decrease in the value of the property after the date of separation.
- One spouse attempted to hide assets from the other spouse.
- The marriage was very short and increases in asset value were not proportional.
- A spouse significantly increased debts or spent large portions of the assets without their spouse’s knowledge or consent.
- There is significant debt, and one spouse is disadvantaged in their ability to pay off the debt.
The largest split the courts have awarded in British Columbia to date is an 80/20 split. Much more equitable splits are far more common.
In addition, asset division is open to negotiation until we go to the courts. Some clients might voluntarily choose to walk away with a smaller portion of the assets in return for some other concession that matters to them. For example, one spouse may give the other spouse more assets to avoid paying spousal support.
How We Help
We listen closely to your goals and propose solutions that will help you protect the property that is most important to you.
We also help you preserve the value of assets that might become devalued through the incorrect division of property, such as retirement accounts or shares in your business. We help you keep a weather eye for potential tax consequences, as well.
If a 50/50 division would truly be unfair, we help you make your case. And as keen negotiators, we can often convince the other side to be reasonable.
Get Help Today
Founding partner Anthony Merchant is the Associate Editor of the Carswell Reports of Family Law. He’s also been published extensively in the Canadian Family Law Quarterly. He is a member of the Advisory Board for the Canadian Journal of Family Law, as well as of The Family Law Journal.
Many of our member lawyers have also been published in all of these prestigious journals.
Anthony Merchant combines this background with thousands of hours of practical case experience, as do all of our lawyers. In addition, most of our divorce lawyers have also worked in our real estate and business law divisions.
Most of our lawyers have 20 to 30 years of experience. And we work as a team, which means even our youngest family lawyers will have access to a wealth of experience and understanding that you’d be hard pressed to find at any other law firm. That’s why we’re confident that you’ll be very pleased by the asset division solutions we work out on your behalf.
Call (604) 394-2777 to schedule your case review and to get paired with your own dedicated family law lawyer.