The legalities surrounding property upon divorce or separation

On behalf of Peterson Stark Scott posted in Divorce on March 13, 2018.

What happens to property when a couple splits up depends upon their status. If a couple in Canada is married, the spouses have definitive ways in which property is divided. That isn’t so if a couple has been in a common law union. Married couples who separate haven’t formally ended the marriage until they are granted a divorce. As soon as a common law couple decide to call it quits, that’s the end of the relationship and no legal formalities are needed.

Property, under the law, can mean land, a home, and assets like a car, boat, motor home, etc. It can also mean any family pets, insurance policies or RRSP dividends. In addition to sharing assets, a couple needs to share the debt load as well, which can include things like credit card debt, car loans, personal line of credit or a mortgage.

Common law couples who are separating usually keep what they came into the relationship with. However, if one partner contributed financially to the purchase and care of an asset, he or could have a claim to part of it. If the two people can’t agree on certain issues, a judge may have to decide for them unless they have a cohabitation agreement.

Married couples usually divide property they bought during the marriage. If a property brought into a marriage increases in value, that amount is usually split as well. If a prenuptial agreement was signed, it may spell out things differently. The legalities surrounding assets during separation or divorce can be very complicate and the experience of a lawyer in Canada may help clients sort out the particulars.

Source:, “Legal matters when you separate or divorce“, Accessed on March 3, 2018

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