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TMZ has reported that Bobby Flay, from the Iron Chef, and Stephanie March, from Law and Order: SVU, separated three weeks ago. According to TMZ, the former couple have been married for ten years. As a result of the breakdown of their marriage, the party will most likely negotiate a Separation Agreement which addresses the issues arising from their separation. One of these issues will be the division of property.

In Ontario, the division of property is addressed through the sharing of value of the property owned by married spouses. The objective of such a regime is to ensure that each spouse will share equally in the economic wealth of the marriage at is breakdown, without any change in property ownership. As such, the parties will exchange financial disclosure, including a Financial Statement, which accurately portrays their financial situation. The parties, or a Court, will then determine the amount owing from one spouse, the payor, to the other, the recipient, to equally share in the economic wealth of the marriage.

This payment from one spouse to the other is referred to as an equalization payment. Part I of the Family Law Act of Ontario sets out how to determine the quantum of the equalization payment owing. The process can be summarized as follows:

Step 1: Determine the valuation date (i.e. the date of separation);

Step 2: Determine what property was owned by each spouse on V-day;

Step 3: Determine whether any property constitutes excluded property;

Step 4: Assign values to property;

Step 5: Determine the value of deductions;

  • Debts and liabilities at V-day (including contingent tax liabilities); and
  • The value of property (other than the matrimonial home) owned at the date of marriage, after deducting debts and liabilities (other than those related directly to the acquisition or significant improvement of the matrimonial home) calculated at the date of marriage;

Step 6: Calculate each spouse's Net Family Property (NFP), and determine the amount that is one-half the difference between the greater and the lesser.

Step 7: Assess any claim for entitlement to more than one-half the difference.

It can be presumed that Bobby Flay and Stephanie March have both accumulated great wealth throughout their marriage. However, it can also be assumed that the parties had significant wealth as of the date of their marriage. Thus, the importance of the exchange of financial disclosure is significant in this case as there may be significant marriage date deductions made by both parties prior to calculating each spouse's Net Family Property. Without knowledge of the financial situation of Bobby Flay or Stephanie March, it is impossible to determine the quantum of the equalization payment owing from one party to the other, or even who the payor of such payment would be.