Distribution of Property in Ontario: The Basics

Distribution of property in Ontario is not as simple as people believe it to be.  Sometimes, people have the misconception that each asset or debt shared between married spouses is looked at separately and divided equally.  The law in Ontario, however, takes a more global approach to property division in that it provides that married spouses are entitled to share equally in one another’s increase in net worth from the date of marriage to the date of separation.

At this point in time, the legislation does not apply to unmarried couples.

For married couples, it is necessary to determine what assets and liabilities each person had on the date of marriage and at the date of separation. The net amount, once determined, is called your net family property. The spouse with the greater net family property is required to give the other spouse a sum of money (or assets equal to the sum of money owing) that will make their net family properties the same. This payment is called an equalization payment.

Each person’s assets and debts registered in their names remains his or her asset or debt unless it is negotiated otherwise.

The matrimonial home is subject to special rules. If, for example, a matrimonial home forms part of an inheritance, it will not be excluded from the definition of family property. Similarly, if any of the excluded property outlined above is converted into a matrimonial home, it loses its status as excluded property. In addition, if a matrimonial home is acquired before marriage, it will not be included in the spouse’s marriage date assets. More than one home can be deemed to be the matrimonial home, and this often includes cottages or vacation properties.

Related:
Distribution of Property in Ontario: The Details