Property Division in Toronto High-Asset Divorces

When couples divorce, each is entitled to half of the net family property. When the couple has significant assets, valuing and equalizing property can be complex, time-consuming, and contentious. Ensuring you meet your financial goals in your divorce requires the help of a well-resourced and sophisticated matrimonial lawyer.

Property division in Toronto high-asset divorces can trigger intense emotions. Dividing property in a high net-worth divorce is often complicated by keeping businesses operational and preserving your family heritage associated with farms, cottages, and other properties. A skilled high-asset divorce lawyer from The Riley Divorce & Family Law Firm could address your fears, goals, and motivations. Let Paul Riley help you secure a property division agreement that meets your needs.

Family Property Equalization Fundamentals

The Ontario Family Law Act s.5 holds that married couples share the wealth they accumulate during their marriage equally, and each has a half interest in all the property they hold when they separate. Each spouse’s net family property is the difference between their net worth on the marriage date and their separation date. The spouse whose net worth has increased the most must pay half the difference to the other spouse to equalize the economic benefit each spouse derived from the marriage.

These basic calculations can cause disagreements when one or both spouses have significant wealth. Determining what property is subject to valuation and even the valuation date—the date you permanently separated from your spouse—can have enormous financial consequences. Additionally, dividing property in Toronto high-asset divorce cases is often incredibly complex. For example, many Ontario couples hold assets in U.S. dollars or own real estate in the U.S. The exchange rate on the valuation date could significantly impact the value of their assets.

Issues Related to Matrimonial Homes

Further complicating matters, the marital home is not counted in the net family property calculation. High-asset couples often have multiple matrimonial homes. Both spouses have equal rights to possession of each of them, regardless of whose name is on the title.

Under Family Law Act s. 28(1), homes solely located in Ontario and used by the family during separation are treated as marital homes. Still, a couple with a home in the Toronto suburbs, a condo in the city, or a lake cottage could have several matrimonial homes if they regularly used each residence as a family during the marriage.

High-asset individuals often enter marriage owning property that becomes a matrimonial home. They may not exclude the value of this property from the NFP calculation, which inflates the value of the NFP and potentially increases the equalization payment. High net-worth couples should work with a skilled lawyer to settle issues regarding property division in Toronto divorces.

Identifying Family Property

Any property a spouse acquired during the marriage that still exists at the time of separation is considered family property and is subject to valuation unless expressly excluded, regardless of who acquired it or whose name appears on title documents. Property might be excluded from the family property valuation if it is:

  • Gifts intended for only one spouse
  • Proceeds from a life insurance policy
  • Proceeds from a personal injury claim
  • The property of one spouse according to a valid marriage contract
  • An inheritance to one spouse that is not a matrimonial home or traceable to a matrimonial home
  • Real property owned by one spouse at the time of marriage and is not a matrimonial home

When the property is excluded from the family property calculation, any change in its value during the marriage could be considered family property.

High net-worth couples often have diverse holdings, including:

  • Trusts
  • Pensions
  • Real estate
  • Businesses
  • Collections
  • Stock options
  • Retirement funds
  • Offshore accounts
  • Investment portfolios
  • Household furnishings

Identifying all assets and liabilities requires a spouse to make an accurate and complete financial disclosure. A Toronto lawyer could work with a Chartered Professional Accountant Certified in Financial Forensics to locate hidden assets, ensure they are included in the NFP calculation, and ensure equal property division in a high net-worth divorce.

Seek Help on Property Division During a High-Asset Divorce with a Toronto Lawyer

You are probably concerned about maintaining your lifestyle after your divorce. You might also worry that your spouse will use the property equalization process to deprive your family of a successful business or heritage property.

Contact a local lawyer skilled in matters relating to property division in Toronto high-asset divorces. A seasoned legal professional could help you accomplish your desired result. Reach out now to get started.

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