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Property Division in a Divorce in Canada

Now that the relationship is over…. who gets what?

There is much to consider during a divorce, but one of the most basic questions is “Who gets what?” For some couples the division of property can get very messy, while others are able to deal with it quickly and easily.

Under Canada’s Constitution, each province and territory is responsible for laws regarding the division and/or equalization of family or marital property, and these laws can vary from one province or territory to another. That said, to help give you a very basic understanding on this topic, below is a general overview of most provincial statutes regarding the division of property during divorce.

Divorce in Canada: General Overview on Property Division

In the eyes of the law a marriage is an equal partnership. So, whether a spouse is responsible for running the household or earning family income, their contribution to the relationship is equally important. When a marriage ends, the partnership is over and property has to be divided. The general rule for this division is:

“The value of any property that you acquired during your marriage and that you still have when you separate, must be divided equally between spouses. Property that was brought into your marriage is yours to keep, but any increases in the value of this property during the duration of marriage must be shared.”

This theory is applied to most family assets with the exception of some, and one of the most important exceptions being your matrimonial home.

Matrimonial home

The Matrimonial home is the place where you and your spouse reside at the time of separation/divorce. Unlike other property, if you owned the matrimonial home on the date of marriage, you do not receive any credit for it when you separate. Also, it doesn’t matter who has their name on the papers for the house, both spouses have an equal right to remain in the matrimonial home.

As noted above, this is just a very general overview and laws will vary from one province/territory to another. To get more specific information on laws for your specific area you can visit your provincial government website, or retain a family lawyer.

Provincial Government websites:

The division of property in a divorce can be quite complicated and the more assets a couple has the more complex the laws can seem. Due to the complex nature of divorce and property laws, we always recommend that couples seek legal advice from a lawyer in their area who specializes in family law. This is the best way to ensure that you are fully educated, and that your rights and property are protected.

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