When a married couple in Ontario files for a divorce, both spouses may be concerned about how they can protect their assets. Confusion about what could be excluded from the property division process often exists. Although federal law sees marriage as a partnership in which both spouses have equal standing, individual assets can belong to only one party.
Many couples protect their personal assets by specifying separate ownership of property brought into the marriage in prenuptial agreements. Those would typically be excluded from property division. However, confusion may arise when it comes to things like inheritances that were received after the date of the marriage.
These may include funds or items received by one spouse such as bequests, gifts from third parties, settlements from civil lawsuits, interests in discretionary trusts, insurance money and more. However, if any of these assets are commingled with marital assets, it could become subject to division. For example, if a portion of an inheritance is used as a down payment on a house, it might become a shared asset. In addition, a spouse claiming sole ownership of an asset will have to prove the claim.
Property division can be a complicated process that could become contentious, especially when assets were commingled. Having the support and guidance of an experienced Ontario lawyer can be a valuable asset. A lawyer can advocate for a divorcing spouse while making sure that person’s property and rights are protected throughout the divorce procedures and beyond. Individuals who want to avoid such contention may consult with a lawyer for guidance in the drafting of marriage contracts. Source: FindLaw Canada, “Gifts, inheritances and other excluded properties“, Miriam Yosowich, Accessed on May 12, 2017