Matrimonial property rights are governed by the Family Law Act (FLA). Only married or formerly married spouses, including same-sex couples, are granted rights under the relevant parts. When a breakdown in the marriage has occurred, certain provision in the FLA are triggered to equalize marital assets.

The FLA provides a formula for the division of property upon the breakdown of marriage. This regime is designed to calculate the increase of each spouse’s net worth from the marriage date, to the date of separation, equalizing the difference between them.

Regardless of its nature, all property is included in the net family property calculation. Some of these assets may include a house, vehicle, bank accounts, pensions, business assets, trusts, TFSAs and RRSPs among others. However, there are some exceptions as to what is included within the calculation of net family property. Certain property such as a gift or inheritance from a third person after the marriage date and before separation is treated differently and may be excluded or deducted.

We handle complex property division disputes, at times working with forensic accountants, where business valuations, pensions, RRSPs, investments, gifts, inheritances and tax are all involved in equalization.  Timing is critical when seeking to include or exclude certain property, such as an inheritance from equalization.



How is a pension handled?

Pensions are property included in the net family property statement and generally valuated. A frequent misconception is that a pension may not form part of net family property if it remains unvested. Irrespective of whether a pension is in pay or not, it still has after-tax value which is generally included.

Pensions are among the largest matrimonial assets. As of January 1, 2012, new legislation is in effect to determine how pensions are valued and equalized. We handle multiple complex pension valuation disputes.



What about stock options?

Stock options are a form of deferred income, common among executive compensation. Depending on when the options are earned, they may be considered property. Valuing stock options is extremely complex with the strike price and market value being important factors in their valuation.

There are also complex rules regarding the treatment of tax and cost of disposition that will be realized in these situations. Further, depending on whether the stock options have vested, there may be greater challenges to quantifying value.

We handle a range of complex stock option disputes, deferred bonuses and other forms of executive compensation in the context of equalization.

416-DEFENCE | 416-333-3623

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