Nicholas Sparks, Critically-acclaimed author, gets to keep his North Carolina Mansion after he and his soon-to-be ex-wife recently signed the deed over to a trust controlled by Mr. Sparks.
Sparks is best known as author of popular romance books such as The Notebook, The Rescue, Message in a Bottle, A Walk to Remember, and Nights in Rodanthe, which were subsequently made into blockbuster hits. Sparks and his wife separated in January of 2015 after 25 years of marriage and raising 5 children together.
Reports of this amicable property division were released October 13, 2015, and rumour has it that Ms. Sparks simply handed over her interest in the 24,000 square-foot mansion and beautiful estate, known as “Trent Acres". There have been reports that Ms. Sparks purchased a $1.1 million mansion, however, it is unclear what funds were used for the purchase and reports are unclear as to what, if anything, Ms. Sparks received in exchange for her share of Trent Acres.
Had the Sparks been subject to Ontario law, the division of assets would likely have been determined in accordance with Ontario's Family Law Act ("FLA"). Under the FLA, each spouse is generally considered to have an equal interest in family property acquired during the marriage. In order to determine which spouse ends up with which assets at the end of a marriage, the FLA sets out a method of calculating the value of each spouse's Net Family Property.
In order to accurately calculate Net Family Property, each spouse must provide financial disclosure to reveal every asset and liability they had on the date of marriage and the separation date. The total value of assets, less debts, that a spouse had on the date of their marriage are then subtracted from the total value of same on the date of their separation. There are some exceptions for property that is not counted in this equation.
Once each spouse's net family property has been determined, the two values are then compared to determine the difference between the value accrued by each spouse during the marriage. The spouse who accrued more wealth during the marriage then generally owes a payment in the amount of half of the difference between the two values, known as an equalization payment, to the spouse who accrued less wealth during the marriage.
Given that Mr. Sparks has an estimated net worth of over $30 million and the fact that he earned a significant portion of that during his marriage, it is unlikely that the value of Ms. Sparks's $1.1 million mansion would come even close to the equalization payment that she would receive under Ontario law.