Equalization of Net Family Property

The Guiding Principle of Ontario Family Law

If you and your spouse are married, when you separate or divorce you are entitled to what is called the equalization of net family property. That equalization will be done for any couple who comes to the court for property division (rather than settling their affairs privately), and spouses are entitled to equalization regardless of the nature of the specific marriage or the couple’s conduct. Either spouse can apply for equalization of family property under Ontario’s Family Law Act (FLA), at any time following separation.

There are limitation periods under the FLA, however. You must bring your equalization claim within the earliest of the following:

  • 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.

The FLA takes a very specific view of the institution of marriage, and imposes that view upon couples who come to court seeking equalization. According to the FLA, “inherent in the marital relationship there is equal contribution,” and upon marriage breakdown the FLA therefore seeks to provide for “equitable sharing.” In order to compensate the spouses fairly for that equal contribution during the relationship, the FLA stipulates that the value of all assets acquired by the spouses during the marriage will be divided equally.

While you may not feel that your particular marriage warrants equal sharing, or that such a process is equitable, these are the presumptions in place under the legislation. Absent some specific extenuating circumstances (which are set out in detail in the section on Division of Property), the court will follow the equalization process. An Ontario family lawyer can explain this process in more detail and can preserve your interests in your divorce or separation.

Call Feldstein Family Law Group P.C. today at (905) 581-7222 to discuss your case and needs.

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