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Presumption of a 50-50 split only a starting point when dividing complex assets at divorce

If your pending divorce involves significant assets, then coming to a fair division of matrimonial property will require careful analysis. Alberta's Matrimonial Property Act states simply enough that matrimonial property shall be divided equally between the spouses. The reality, though, is that reaching a fair and comprehensive agreement often requires special consideration of complex assets, and the idea of a 50-50 split is only a starting point.

Depending on the circumstances, matrimonial property may include complex assets such as businesses, shared bank accounts, commercial property, residential property, stock incentives, non-registered investments, RRSPs and pensions. Any existing debts, including the tax implications of property division, should also be considered.

In light of these matters, it is important not only to have the advice and guidance of a property division lawyer, but also a lawyer who can assess how particular ways of dividing matrimonial property could affect your estate plan.

When negotiating a fair division of property, it may be appropriate for one party to waive his or her rights to certain assets in exchange for a larger share of another asset. It is also important to determine whether any property should be excluded from division. This kind of exclusion may apply to an asset that was owned by one party prior to marriage and was never mingled with the other party's property, or a cohabitation agreement or prenuptial agreement may state that certain items of property should not be divided.

The lawyers of Kirk Montoute LLP help divorcing spouses reach fair and lasting divorce agreements. We are also a full-service wills and estates law firm and are prepared to protect our clients' interests in the short and long terms.

For more on how divorce could affect your estate, please see our previous post, "Important to update your estate plan after divorce."

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