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Short Marriages and Unequal Family Property Division

Avoiding 5 BC Family Property Mistakes can save you hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars. In today’s blog senior associate Tal Wolf exposes 5 Common Myths about BC Family Property Division on separation or divorce.

Avoiding 5 BC Family Property Mistakes 604 602 9000

To avoid these 5 common BC family property division mistakes you need to call MacLean Law today at 1-877-602-9900 to set up a personal consultation with one of our highly experienced BC family property division lawyers to find out where you stand in your personal circumstances. We have offices in Vancouver, West Vancouver, Surrey, Victoria, Kelowna and Richmond.

Mistake #1: Thinking BC Family Property is Always Divided Equally 604 602 9000

In BC, marital property is divided in an equitable manner. But equitable distribution does not necessarily mean equal distribution. The court can divide marital property equally between divorcing spouses, or unequally if it finds that grounds for an unequal distribution exist within certain specified categories. Sometimes property is excluded from division outright, even huge swaths, based on relatively common scenarios such as pre-existing assets from before the relationship, inheritance of large gifts. Especially in shorter relationships, courts can look at a host of mitigating factors to determine that a straight 50/50 division is not appropriate, or even nearly so. Support obligations, medical hardships, family debt allocation, career contributions, a spouse’s financial behavior around the time of the separation, and distributive taxes are just some of the other considerations that may be taken into account. This is just one way of avoiding 5 BC Family Property mistakes.

Mistake #2: Cheaters Get Nothing

Divorce and separation in Canada is essentially “no fault”. When it comes to division of property, the Courts do not look behind the closed doors of the relationship to assess the morality of a parties’ private behavior, including adultery. The only exception might be if a spouse spends family property to carry on an affair, in which case there may be a unequal division to compensate for the expenditure. Proven adultery does entitle the other spouse to obtain a divorce immediately rather than having to wait a full year after separation, but for all practical purposes this entitlement bears no significance on the financial disposition of the case. In fact, your lawyer may advise you to avoid seeking an early divorce, at least until all property has been divided, because of adverse tax consequences.

Avoiding 5 BC Family Property Mistakes
TAL WOLF, Avoiding 5 BC Family Property Mistakes1-877-602-9900

Mistake #3: The Spouse Who Made the Most Money, Keeps Everything 604 602 9000

Unless it was explicitly stated in a marriage agreement that money earned by a spouse, or through a spouse’s designated separate property is to be deemed separate and not divisible as family property, all the money acquired during a marriage is considered family property, regardless of who earned it. Family property is subject to presumptively equal distribution, with a few well-defined exceptions that are not based on who “made” the money.

Mistake #4: Title Determines Whether an Asset is Considered Separate or Family Property

When determining which property is separate and which is marital, the court does not look at titles alone. Property obtained during a marriage is considered family property, regardless of what a title says (in and of itself). This is not to say that the title may not be evidence, or corroboration of an intention during acquisition or transfer that could affect whether it’s treated as divisible family property, for example when a gift was made by a third party and intended for one spouse alone. This also is not to say that a spouse is deemed to have a divisible beneficial interest in all property titled in his or her name, such as when they are holding legal title in trust for a third party, such as a parent.

Mistake #5: My Spouse Has Had Nothing to Do With My Business So They Aren’t Entitled to Any of It 604 602 9000

A business started during the marriage is presumptively family property subject to equal division, regardless of the other spouse’s involvement in it, or contributions to it. Remember, the presumption is that your spouse’s participation in the relationship itself, and in whatever role, is considered implicitly as an indirect contribution to your business even if your spouse’s role merely freed up your time and capacity to run it.

Avoiding 5 BC Family Property Mistakes

Likewise, if a business formed before a marriage increases in value during the marriage, a court will likely consider the appreciation as family property. Also, a non-family business or excluded real estate could have a divisible component if the owner commingles business money with family money, especially where traceability is difficult or lost. New changes to our BC Family Law Act have changed the law on what happens when excluded property is placed in joint names.

At MacLean Law, dealing with complex family law property division matters is our bread and butter. Government websites provide general information but when your case involves family property, excluded property and family debt it pays to call the lawyers who have helped set the law in the biggest cases in BC. Call our BC family property division lawyers toll free at 1-877-602-9900 to get a real assessment of how your specific portfolio would be dealt with in the event of a marital dissolution, and what steps you can take to help keep as much of your hard-earned wealth as possible on your side of the sheet.