What's at Stake in the Tatum-Dewan Split: Property Division and Equalization

After nearly nine (9) years of marriage, Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan - both 37 years old - have called it splits.

On April 2, 2018, the couple released a joint statement, saying "we have lovingly chosen to separate as a couple." They went on to say that there is no salacious event that caused their breakup; and that they intend on being a family, and will always being loving and dedicated parents to their 4-year old daughter.

Tatum and Dewan met on the set of dance movie Step Up in 2006, and married in 2009. Since their breakout roles in Step Up, both Tatum's and Dewan's careers have grown. In fact, Tatum has since become one of Hollywood's highest paid leading men.

So what's at stake here? Well, according to People, this could become a "complicated divorce."

Channing Tatum has starred in lucrative blockbuster hits like 21 Jump Street andMagic Mike. In 2013, Forbes estimated that Tatum made $60 million. In 2015, Forbes estimated that Tatum made $29 million. In recent years, Tatum's also began producing movies - which means he gets an even bigger payday (an estimated $20 million per movie). Tatum also launched his own vodka line in 2017. And so, it's no surprise that various online estimates place Tatum's net worth in the range of $60 to $80 million.

Jenna Dewan has also enjoyed great success - landing several roles in movies, TV shows and music videos. She recently booked a lead part in Fox's musical drama, Mixtape; and also has a hosting gig on NBC's World of Dance. She also has partnerships with brands like Danskin.

In 2015, the couple purchased a $6.45 million home - six bedrooms, with an outside pool and an entertainment room - in Beverly Hills.

And so, even though Tatum and Dewan's split seems to be fairly amicable - thing could sour very quickly given what's at stake!

If Tatum and Dewan lived in Ontario, they'd be subject to the Family Law Act's property equalization scheme.

According to the Family Law Act, equal contribution is inherent to the marital relationship. As such, upon the breakdown of a marriage, the Family Law Act seeks to provide for "equitable sharing" - to compensate the spouses fairly for equal contribution during the relationship, the value of all assets acquired by the spouses during the marriage are to be divided equally. Simply, as per theFamily Law Act, both Tatum and Dewan would be entitled to one half of the value of property accumulated during the marriage.

The general process for equalizing net family properties is as follows:

  • First, determine the value of each spouse's property at the valuation date. Include all assets, except for those assets specifically excluded by section 4(2) of the Family Law Act. Add all of these figures together to obtain a total value of assets.
  • Subtract from the total assets all debts. This creates a total value for each spouse on the valuation date. If a spouse has more debts than assets at the valuation date, consider their total at valuation day to be zero for the subsequent calculation.
  • Next, determine the value of all assets that each person brought into the marriage (the value of their assets at the date of marriage). Do not include the value of the matrimonial home if it was owned at the time of marriage. If a person's net worth at marriage was negative (that person had more debts than assets), maintain that negative number for the purposes of the next step.
  • For each spouse, subtract the date of marriage assets from the valuation date assets. (If a spouse's date of marriage net worth is negative, you will subtract the negative, resulting in an addition.) This gives a figure that is each spouse's "net family property" (NFP). It includes the value of assets acquired during the marriage as well as the increase in value of assets brought into the marriage. One spouse will almost always have a higher NFP than the other.
  • Subtract the lower NFP from the higher one, and divide the difference in half. This is the amount of the equalization payment, which the spouse with the higher NFP must pay to the spouse with the lower NFP.

Key to the equalization process is determining ownership of each asset. Sometimes, ownership may be disputed; and in such cases, courts can - per section 10(1) of the Family Law Act - make a declaration of ownership, order one spouse to compensate the other for that property, or even order that the property be sold and the proceeds be divided.

A spouse may even make trust claim for assets owned by the other spouse. A resulting trust occurs when one person transfers property to another, but is presumed to still retain ownership of the property; and a constructive trust arises to remedy unjust enrichment, where one spouse has contributed to the value or acquisition of an asset owned by the other spouse, and he or she was not compensated for the deprivation incurred in making that contribution. Trust claims can be complicated and difficult to prove.

It's important to note that there are limitation periods under the Family Law Act; and as such, a party must bring an equalization claim within six years of the date of separation, two years from the date of divorce, or six months from the date of the spouse's death, whichever date comes sooner.

Also noteworthy is the fact that the matrimonial home is treated different for the purposes of the equalization process. The matrimonial home is not included in a spouse's date of marriage assets, even if it was owned at the time of marriage. In contrast, the value of the matrimonial home is always included in the valuation date assets of the spouse who owns it (or its value is divided between the spouses, if it is jointly owned).

Given what we know about Tatum and Dewan - their assets and net worths, if things get messy between the two, it seems as though Tatum would have the most to lose (if they were Ontario residents).

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