How to Split Assets in a Divorce Canada?

How to Split Assets in a Divorce Canada

Divorce is a tiring process with a lot of mental pressure. The pressure increases when you have to split assets in a divorce. But do you know how to split assets in a divorce Canada? The major concern separating couples face is dividing their assets fairly. To help you with the main overview, our guide will provide a basic understanding of how asset division works in Canada after a separation or divorce.

What are Considered Family Assets for a Couple after Marriage?

Assets acquired after the wedding date are generally considered “family property.” The assets include your home, vehicles, furniture, savings accounts, and investments. There can be exceptions. Assets owned by one spouse before marriage (like an inheritance) might be excluded, but their growth during the marriage could be split. It’s best to consult a lawyer for a clear picture of what applies in your situation.

Can You Split Assets in a Divorce or Separation?

In Canada, yes, you can definitely split assets after a separation or divorce.  There are two main scenarios:

  • Married Couples: Assets and debts acquired during the marriage (or common-law partnership of at least two years) are generally considered “family property” and subject to equal division.
  • Common-Law Partners: While the division of assets follows similar principles, the specific laws might differ slightly depending on your province or territory.

There can be exceptions for some cases. The following things will be excluded:

  • Property owned before the marriage
  • Inheritances received during the marriage (with certain conditions)
  • Certain personal possessions might be excluded from the division.

How To Split Assets in a Divorce Canada?

There are three main ways to split assets in a divorce in Canada. They are— Reaching agreement, arbitration, and going to court.

Option 1: Reaching an Agreement

This is the most desirable outcome. You and your spouse can negotiate and come to a fair agreement on how to split your assets and debts. This can be done with the help of a mediator or lawyer.

Option 2: Arbitration 

If you can’t agree on your own, you can choose arbitration. A neutral third party will decide on the division of assets.

Option 3: Going to Court

This is the least preferable option due to its cost and time commitment. If negotiation and arbitration fail, a judge will decide how to split the assets based on what’s considered “fair and equitable” in your situation.

What are the Ways to Protect My 401K While Getting a Divorce?

In Canada, there is no equivalent to a 401K retirement plan. The closest similar plans are Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs) and Tax-Free Savings Accounts (TFSAs).

Here’s how to potentially protect your RRSPs during a divorce:

  • Pre-nuptial Agreement: A prenuptial agreement outlining how RRSPs will be handled in case of divorce can offer protection.
  • Contributions Made Before Marriage: Contributions made to your RRSP before the marriage are generally considered your separate property.

It’s crucial to consult a lawyer to understand how your specific situation and type of retirement savings plan will be affected by a divorce.

How Will The Community Property be Divided?

Canada does not have a community property system like some other countries. Assets acquired during the marriage are considered “family property” and subject to division based on what’s fair and equitable, not necessarily a strict 50/50 split.

What Do I Do If My Spouse is Uncooperative in a Divorce?

If your spouse is uncooperative, consider going to a mediator or lawyer.

  • A mediator can help facilitate communication and guide you both toward an agreement.
  • A lawyer can advise you on your rights and represent you in negotiations or court proceedings.

Are There Exceptions To The 50/50 Division?

Don’t assume everything gets split 50/50! In Canada, assets acquired during the marriage (family property) are divided “fairly.”

  • Pre-marital assets such as grandma’s inheritance usually stay with the original owner. But if their value grew during the marriage, the increase might be subject to division.
  • Even separate property can become marital if circumstances change. For instance, a pre-marital house becomes family property if both spouses live there or one spouse gets added to the ownership documents.
  • Division doesn’t mean physically splitting a house! One spouse might keep the house and give up other assets to balance the value.

Infidelity can impact finances. If a spouse spends marital funds on an affair, the other can claim compensation from their share of the divided property.

Conclusion

Divorce is rarely planned incidents, so having ample knowledge is your best weapon to save assets or divide fairly. We tried to provide you with a foundation for understanding asset division in Canada. A lawyer specializing in family law can guide you through this challenging time and ensure you receive a fair outcome. 

FAQs

Does my wife get half of everything in a divorce in Canada?

No, Canadian divorces do not automatically split everything 50/50. Family property acquired during the marriage is divided “fairly.” This is actually close to half, but factors like pre-marital ownership and infidelity can influence the outcome. You can talk to a lawyer for specific advice.

Are assets split 50-50 in Divorce Canada?

Dividing assets in a Canadian divorce depends on your province but generally follows a “fairness” principle.  Not a strict 50/50 split. They consider all assets and debts acquired during the marriage to calculate a net value (family property) that’s then divided fairly.

Is inheritance money split in a divorce in Canada?

In Canada, inherited money is yours to keep in a divorce. It is considered separate from marital assets such as net family property and is not split.  This is because inheritances are seen as your own property.

Does a spouse automatically inherit everything in Canada?

Canadian inheritance depends on a will. If there is no will, spouses get a significant portion (varying by province), but not always everything. With a will, the spouse inherits what’s designated. Talk to a lawyer for specifics on your situation.

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