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Unequal Family Property Contribution

BC Family Property Valuations lawyers help separated spouses value their family property. When dealing with medium and high-income family law cases one important determination that needs to be made, is the valuation of any businesses, personal property and real property held by the parties including:

  • real estate,
  • family businesses,
  • professional practices,
  • stock broker’s books of business
  • stocks and stock options
  • family trust and discretionary trust interests
  • distributive and latent capital gains and other disposition costs

BC Family Property Valuations – Joint Financial Expert Call 1 877 602 9900

Under Rule 13 of the Supreme Court Family Rules, (SCFR) BC Family Property Valuations will usually be made by a single expert valuator jointly appointed by either the court or the consent of both parties. In today’s blog, Jaye Rutledge of our Fort St John family law office explains the rules involving joint experts and BC Family Property Valuations.

BC Family Property Valuations
Jaye Rutledge, MacLean Law Articled Student

The SCFR rules say that one joint expert shall be appointed and a judge will most likely refuse to hear the evidence of an appraisal made on behalf of only one party because of a number of factors, including a feeling that family cases had begun to become a battle of hired guns. The new rules focus on a single joint expert who promises to be neutral and to help the court do the right thing on valuing family property after considering:

a) The central importance of the division of family assets and the corresponding need for valuation or accounting evidence;

b) The cost of obtaining such expert evidence in many cases;

c) The fact that the parties frequently do not have equal ability and resources to retain experts;

d) The fact that while separately appointed valuation or accounting experts may disagree on some matters, they frequently find a great deal of common ground, resulting in needless duplication of costs (this, of course, assumes that all experts, whether jointly or separately appointed, have proper regard to their duty to assist the court and not act as advocates for either party); and

e) The overly adversarial nature of some family cases, which can put in issue matters on which the parties should be able to agree.

Aquilini v. Aquilini, 2012 BCSC 1616 paragraph 10

Attacking Inaccurate BC Family Property Valuations Call 1 877 602 9900

Although jointly appointed experts are good in that they reduce overall costs to the parties, it is important to keep in mind that an unfair or improper joint expert BC Family Property Valuations can still be challenged. In order to challenge an appraisal done by a jointly appointed expert, the best route is to first have another BC Family Property Valuations expert critique the report. If the critique expert finds procedural and methodology flaws or other errors you can use the critique to cross-examine the joint expert or you can ask the court for leave to obtain the services of another expert appraiser who can provide a more accurate assessment.

In accordance with the Supreme Court Family Rules, the court will grant this request only if they are convinced that another expert is needed to ensure a fair trial. The court will not hear from a new expert simply because the party is unsatisfied with the joint appraisal. 

Expert Must Be Neutral And Acknowledge Duty To Assist Court

In the recent case of MacDonald v Leung, 2019 BCSC 299 the court held that “A joint expert is expected to have been provided with all necessary information, been given an opportunity to consider opposing or divergent views, and been allowed further clarification”. Challenging the fairness of an appraisal often depends on proving that the appraiser failed to take into consideration all relevant factors.

As an example, in MacDonald v Leung the court allowed a party to introduce evidence of an additional expert appraiser after learning that the joint appraiser made no attempt to contact one party while being in frequent contact with the other party. Additionally, the appraiser failed to acknowledge his duty to assist the court and not be an advocate for any party, a duty that all experts in BC Supreme Court family matters must act in accordance with.  As a result, the court made the determination that the joint expert was acting as if he were retained solely by one of the parties and that relying on his appraisal would be unfair.

As MacDonald v Leung notes, the new SCFR rules significantly restrict parties from bringing sole expert evidence on the grounds that it was not obtained by a jointly appointed expert.

BC Family Property Valuations Are Complicated So Hire A Lawyer Who Knows The Rules Call 1 877 602 9900

BC Family Property Valuations cases are complicated and it is important to hire a law firm that focuses on family law to ensure that they are aware of issues like this which are unique to family law litigation. Call us toll-free across BC and in Calgary at 1-877-602-9900. We have 6 offices to serve you.