Litigation (Family Law, Property Dispute)


When a marriage ends, the equal contribution of each person to the marriage is recognized. The law provides that the value of any kind of property that was acquired by a spouse during the marriage and still exists at separation must be divided equally between the spouses. Also, any increase in the value of property owned by a spouse at the date of marriage must be shared. The payment that may be owed to one of the spouses in order to effect this sharing is called an equalization payment, or an equalization of net family property.

There are some possible exceptions to these rules, which are called excluded property, and may include gifts or inheritances received during the marriage from someone other than a spouse, provided that the gifts or inheritances were not used towards a matrimonial home.

These automatic property sharing provisions only apply to married spouses. If you are in a common law relationship, you are not entitled to an equalization payment, but may be entitled to a payment from your spouse to pay you back for a direct or indirect contribution to property that he or she owns. These claims are referred to as trust claims.

THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT FAMILY LAW

When you get married, the law treats your marriage as an equal economic partnership. If your marriage ends, the value of the property you acquired while you were married and the increase in the value of property you brought into your marriage will be divided in half: one half for you and one half for your husband or wife. There are exceptions to this rule.

The law also provides that you and your husband or wife have an equal right to stay in the family home. If you separate, you will have to decide who will continue to live there.

In addition, Ontario’s family laws provide that you may be entitled to financial support for yourself and your children when your marriage ends.

Getting married results in your existing will being revoked, unless the will states that it was made in anticipation of the marriage. You may therefore need a new will after you marry. See page 38 for further details about what happens after a spouse’s death.

Couples who feel that the law does not suit the kind of relationship they have can make other arrangements in a marriage contract.

Marriage contracts are very important legal documents. You should think carefully about your decision. Speak to a lawyer and exchange financial information before signing a marriage contract.

In a marriage contract you can say what you expect from each other during your marriage. You can list property that you are bringing into the marriage and say how much it is worth and who owns it. You can say exactly how you will divide your property if your marriage ends. You do not have to divide your property equally. You can describe how support payments will be made if your marriage ends. You can also make plans for the education and religious upbringing of your children, even if they are not yet born.