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Our Vancouver Family Property Division lawyers are constantly reviewing court decisions relating to family property division in BC. Non disclosure has been called the cancer of family law litigation and lawyers and judges are fed up.  On separation, division of family property is a highly contested issue and our Vancouver Family Property Division lawyers negotiate and litigate this complex area to ensure the best result for our clients. . Our Vancouver Family Property Division Lawyers have had excellent success in ferreting out hidden income and assets. Lifestyle audits, grossing up of cash and overseas income and calculating to the true income for business owners are key techniques we employ to help ensure justice.

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In today’s blog, Mandarin-speaking associate Susanna Chen, highlights a recent family case where a woman, whose ex-husband forged documents and fraudulently hid millions of dollars, was awarded nearly $1.3 million in compensation, in addition to special costs. Our Award winning family law firm is a multiple award winner as best Vancouver family law firm and we have offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto  Surrey, Richmond, Kelowna and Fort St John/Dawson Creek.

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Susanna Chen, Mandarin and Cantonese fluent Vancouver and Toronto family lawyer

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This case was featured in the CBC news  given the extraordinary circumstances of the case.  The issues had been supposedly resolved in 2006 when Ms. Sangha was awarded monthly spousal support for a total of $12,000 and her other financial claims dismissed. In 2012, however, Ms. Shangha obtained an order allowing her to reopen the action after it was revealed in a separate civil litigation that Mr. Sangha had forged documents to hide his assets from Ms. Sangha.  In particular, Mr. Sangha swore false affidavits and discovery testimony that his shares in two corporations were held in trust for his brother pursuant to a trust agreement.  The civil litigation revealed that the affidavits and trust agreement were a sham, and that Mr. Sangha’s interests in the corporations are worth almost $10 million. 

In this case, Ms. Sangha argued that the corporations were family assets and subject to division under s. 58 of the FRA, given that the two principal assets of the companies were ordinarily used by the parties during the marriage for a family purpose. 

Further, Ms. Sangha made sufficient direct and indirect contributions to render them family assets, such as working for the businesses and caring for their child.  However, Mr. Sangha claimed that the despite the family use of the assets, their primary use was for a business purpose, and that Ms. Sangha did not contribute directly or indirectly to the operation of the business. 

The Honourable Justice Milman found that the parties’ use of the principal assets went beyond a mere “occasional” use in that it served as their family residence whenever they spent extended periods of time in Calgary.  Further, the parties’ used the companies as security for their retirement and to split income every tax year.  As well, the direct and indirect contributions by Ms. Sangha were sufficient to qualify the companies as family assets as Mr Justice Milman stated:

[81]         Nevertheless, I find that she did make both direct and indirect contributions to the businesses. She contributed directly through her labour in the laundry at the Tower Inn and indirectly to both businesses by her provision of child care for Himmat, her general household management, including preparing meals and doing other household chores for Mr. Sangha, his brothers and perhaps others. These efforts made it easier for Mr. Sangha to help build the businesses, which I find he did during the material time.

As a result, the Honourable Justice Milman awarded Ms. Sangha with a compensation order, in addition to special costs, and further stated:

[94]         The fact of the matter is that Ms. Sangha has been deprived of her remedy for many years by virtue of Mr. Sangha’s deceit. In my view, she is entitled to receive compensation forthwith, regardless of the tax implications or other inconvenience for Mr. Sangha. I also accept, however, that Mr. Sangha may have to redeem his shares in the parent companies of RIGL and Alberta Co. in order to satisfy this judgment, and he may not be able to do so immediately. I will therefore order that Mr. Sangha pay Ms. Sangha $150,000 forthwith, $500,000 within six months and the balance to be paid no later than one year from the pronouncement of this judgment.

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Contact our experienced Vancouver family lawyers to obtain comprehensive legal advice regarding division of family property.  Your financial wellbeing is essential to moving on after separation/divorce  and our Vancouver Family Property Division Lawyers will get to the bottom of what the real guideline income and family assets are. Contact us at any of of our 6 offices across Alberta and British Columbia.

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