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Change in home values make property division a key aspect of divorce

Anyone who owns a home in Canada right now is probably aware of the ongoing rise in the value of real estate. For those going through a divorce or considering a separation, the question of who keeps the house may be a critical one. Making decisions about property division is now more complicated than ever.

In a typical Canadian divorce case, the partner whose name is not on the title is entitled to half the value of the home at the time of separation. With home values consistently going up (the average home in Canada was worth 1.5 percent more at the end of August than it was a month prior), that means the person on the title may be holding more value than their ex-partner in fairly short order. This is leading to some interesting scenarios.

A recently divorced man in Vancouver argued his support payments should be reduced because the value of his wife's home, which she took in the divorce settlement, had increased. The judge on the case did not rule in the man's favour. In his decision, the judge declared the increased value did not change the woman's financial situation, as she was not about to sell the home. Still, all the equity in the home belongs to the woman.

Spouses in Canada looking to divorce, or couples considering a prenuptial agreement, should think carefully about how best to divide their assets. A home is usually the single largest asset owned by a married couple, and it's one that may increase in value over time. For those looking for advice on property division, a law firm that deals with family and divorce law may be of help.

Source: Yahoo Finance Canada, "Who keeps the house in a divorce?", Andrew Seale, Sept. 21, 2016

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