Property Division

If a couple is married, and there is no domestic contract, then their share in the value of the marital property is governed by the statues. 

Equalization is the calculation whereby each party lists the value of his or her assets minus the amount of debts to determine their net family property.  The value of property that was brought into the marriage, or was inherited or given to a spouse, or personal injury damages, are all excluded from the calculation.  The matrimonial home, unless specifically excluded by a marriage contract, cannot be excluded from the calculation.  Even if a spouse owned a house when the couple was married, the value of the house is always included (unless there is a domestic contract).

Property Division is based upon full financial disclosure of the extent and value to each party’s property.   This is often a time consuming process, particularly is one spouse is attempting to hide assets from the other.  Lawyers can obtain court orders to disclose information, conduct questioning under oath, employ valuators and forensic accountants, and ask the court to determine value if all else fails.  Certainly co-operative parties simplify the process, but there are options when one party is deceptive or not forthcoming.

Other property issues

Who keeps the couch?  Generally, the spouse who  bought the item, or if the property, for example the bank account, is in one party’s name, then that spouse owns the property and keeps it.  (The value of that property is to be listed on that spouse’s side of the net family property statement).  Property which is owned jointly by the spouses is share.  One party must purchase the other’s interest in that property, or else it should  be sold to a third party and the proceeds shares.  Similarly debts and liabilities remain with the party in whose name the debt was incurred.  When there is a disagreement as to who should have the couch or other specific items, then as a last resort, a judge may determine who keeps it.  There is usually a practical solution to these issues.