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Property division after divorce: Dealing with assets and debts

When a marriage breaks up, there are many things to consider besides healing broken hearts. If a divorcing Alberta couple has amassed sizable assets, they need to think about things like property division, dividing other assets and clearing debts. Essentially there are two questions to be answered: What each individually is financially worth and what the couple is financially worth together. The 1968 movie, "Yours, Mine and Ours," was about a blended family, but the title could just as easily be used as the starting point for dividing assets in a divorce.

Things should be thought about carefully in any divorce agreement. For instance, if the individuals are relatively young, how will things like pension funds, RRIFs and RRSPs be divided? It may sound good to trade one or more of those for other things, like the boat and car, but there may be regrets when the time for retirement comes along. If the couple owns and operates a business together, that also has to be considered.

There are some documents that need to be amassed when figuring out the answers to these questions. Each person should have copies of their tax returns over the last five years; any pay stubs and benefits plans; copies of trusts and/or wills; statements of any debts owing like credit cards, an outstanding mortgage, care payments, etc.; statements for mutual funds and any other documents that speak to finances in any way. Having these documents in order will help to speed up the divorce process.

Although divorce comes under the federal umbrella, it is the responsibility of the provinces on how the laws are overseen. An Alberta lawyer would be able to provide information on how those rules need to be carried out in White Rose Country. Property division might be much less messy and complicated if each individual received guidance from an experienced lawyer, especially if there are substantial assets.

Source: practicalmoneyskills.ca, "Splitting Assets and Debts", Accessed on Jan. 19, 2018

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