Property Division Lawyer Barrie


At Chapman Steffler LLP, our lawyers have a great deal of expertise resolving complicated property division issues. Our individualized advice is based on your particular circumstances and we make sure that your rights and interests are safeguarded at all times.

What Does Property Division Mean in Divorce and Separation Proceedings?

Property division refers to the fair and equitable distribution of value of assets and liabilities between spouses during a divorce or separation. It involves determining how property and debts accumulated during the marriage or relationship will be divided between the parties.

During a divorce or separation, various types of property may be subject to division. This includes:

1. Marital Property

Assets obtained by either spouse during a marriage are considered marital property and may include real estate, vehicles, bank accounts, investments, household items, and other valuable assets.

2. Inheritances

In the context of marriage, inheritances received by one spouse are typically regarded as separate property. Nonetheless, if the inheritance has been mixed with marital assets or utilized for the family’s benefit, it may be subject to division.

3. Gifts

Similar to inheritances, gifts received by one spouse during the marriage are typically considered separate property. However, if the gift has been intermingled with marital assets or used for the benefit of the family, it may be subject to division.

4. Legal Settlements or Awards

Any legal settlements or awards received by either spouse during the marriage may be subject to division, depending on the specific circumstances.

5. The Family Home

The family home is often a significant asset subject to division. Factors such as the duration of the marriage, contributions made by each spouse, and the best interests of any children involved are considered when determining how the family home will be divided.

6. Pensions

Pensions earned by either spouse during the marriage are typically considered marital property and may be subject to division. Special considerations apply to the valuation and division of pensions.

7. Businesses

If one or both spouses own a business, its value and assets may be subject to division. Evaluating and dividing business assets requires a thorough understanding of business valuation principles and legal expertise.

8. Employment Benefits

Employment benefits, such as retirement accounts, stock options, and employee bonuses, may be subject to division depending on their nature and the specific circumstances of the case.

Why is it important to hire a Property Division Lawyer?

The division of property, both between married spouses and common law spouses, involves the application of complex legal principles. A family law lawyer can help you make sense of how these principles apply to your case and assist you in understanding your entitlements and obligations.


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Property division refers to the distribution of assets, or the value of assets, between spouses following the breakdown of a relationship. The process for property division varies greatly depending on whether the spouses are married or common law.

When dividing property, especially marital property like the matrimonial home, factors such as the date of marriage, assets and liabilities each partner brought into the marriage, and assets acquired/property acquired during the marriage are considered. The matrimonial home is given special consideration, with both partners having equal rights to possession of the home until it is legally sold or one party is granted exclusive possession by a court order.

Following the end of a marriage, married spouses are entitled to seek an “equalization of net family properties”. This is, in short, a sharing of the financial gain accumulated over the course of the marriage.

Common law spouses do not have any such entitlement and generally do not have any automatic right to share in the value of each other’s property. Instead, common law relationships have to rely on principles relating to unjust enrichment, constructive trusts, resulting trusts, and joint family ventures. Common law partners may have rights to assets like bank accounts and real estate via the previously mentioned legal principles such as unjust enrichment or constructive trust.

Division of property in a common law relationship requires nuance and experience; seeking advice and assistance from a family law lawyer can help you make sense of these complex issues. 

Upon the breakdown of a marriage, married spouses are entitled to seek an “equalization of net family properties”. This equalization payment process is not a division of individual assets and debts, but rather aims to share equally between the spouses any financial gain accumulated through their marital partnership.

The equalization process is meant to ensure that each spouse ends up with an equal share of what was gained during the marriage. In some cases, such as where a spouse has intentionally or recklessly disposed of assets (e.g., through gambling or reckless spending), this equal sharing may be varied, so that the spouses are left with unequal shares.

For common law spouses, there is no equalization of net family properties, and no automatic sharing of assets or debts (except for those held jointly). Common law spouses may gain some entitlement through constructive or resulting trust claims, or as a result of a joint family venture; however, this does not guarantee any 50/50 sharing of assets.

Instead, the entitlement of one common law spouse to share in the value of the other’s property is generally proportionate to the contributions that spouse has made, directly or indirectly, to the value of the other’s property.

Upon separation, married spouses may seek to equalize their “net family properties”. This is not a matter of splitting individual assets, but of sharing the net increase in the value of all assets accumulated over the course of the marriage.

In rough terms, each spouse’s net family property (or “NFP”)  is calculated by determining his or her “net worth” at separation, deducting from this his or her “net worth” as of the date of marriage, and deducting the value of any “excluded property” held at separation. Once each spouse’s NFP is calculated, the spouse with the higher NFP value pays the other one-half the difference between their respective NFP values.

A family lawyer can provide invaluable assistance in navigating the complexities of dividing property, ensuring that the division is fair and equitable. They can also help in accurately calculating child support, taking into account the financial situation of both parties and the needs of the children. Additionally, a family/divorce lawyer can negotiate agreements, represent you in court, and ensure that all legal procedures are correctly followed, from determining the date of separation to distributing assets acquired (this especially includes property acquired) during the marriage.

The time of separation marks the point at which the married couple’s assets and liabilities stop being considered as jointly accumulated. It’s crucial for determining the value of the marital property to be divided and for calculating equalization payments. Assets acquired and debts incurred after this date are generally considered separate and not subject to division between the spouses.