Six things you need to know about matrimonial property division in Alberta
- Matrimonial property is subject to division
Property division is not limited to your matrimonial home. Also subject to division are investments, bank accounts, household goods, business assets, cars and property acquired during the relationship for use/enjoyment by both spouses. Note this is not a complete list and you may have additional assets that are subject to division.
- Key factors in a dispute over property division
If the former spouses cannot agree on the division of matrimonial property, a judge will make the decision, taking into account the following factors:
- The length of the marriage
- Whether the property was acquired when the spouses were living separate and apart
- Whether one spouse has dissipated property to the detriment of the other spouse
- How much did each spouse contribute?
- Are there business interests?
- What is the financial worth of each spouse?
- How long were the spouses married?
- Do other agreements between the spouses exist?
- Are there Court orders against either or both spouses?
- Does either spouse have tax and debt liabilities
- Assets that are not usually subject to division.
Assets a spouse had prior to getting married are not subject to division, with some exceptions. For example, a property acquired before a marriage would be exempt, but the increase in the value of the property over the time of the marriage would be considered matrimonial property. Other assets not subject to division include gifts, an inheritance and a tort settlement. Everything changes if there is a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement that protects certain assets from the division. For example, one spouse may specify that his or her business interests do not become matrimonial property and are therefore not subject to division.
- Balance reward and risk
Think twice before deciding to fight over property division in Court. You could win a judgement, but end up with nothing because all your significant assets need to be sold to pay legal costs.
- Misconduct is not a major factor
Decisions about the division of property are not influenced by the misconduct (criminal behaviour, affair, drug abuse) of both or either spouse, provided that the behaviour did not involve improper use or sale of matrimonial property.
- You can apply for exclusive possession of your home.
A Court can award a spouse exclusive possession, even if the property is in the name of the other spouse. The other spouse could be evicted and ordered to not enter or go to the matrimonial home. However, these orders are not easy to obtain. Specific guidelines must be met and the person making the application must prove that they (and any children) are at risk if the other spouse remains in the matrimonial home.
Get answers to your questions about Property Division in Alberta by contacting a divorce lawyer at the Edmonton Law Office today to request your free introductory consultation.