Throughout a marriage, property and debts are likely to accumulate. It can be very complicated to decide who gets what upon divorce. As a general rule, under the new Family Law Act, property acquired and debts incurred during the relationship are considered family property and family debts. These are usually divided equally between the parties. Personal property and personal debts are those acquired or incurred before or after the relationship and are referred to as excluded property. For better or for worse, these are the responsibility of each party. Inheritances, gifts and certain court awards and insurance payments are also typically excluded and belong to each spouse independently.
Under the Family Law Act, the Supreme Court may order an unequal division of family property or family debt, or both, if equal division would be “significantly unfair”. When assessing significant unfairness, the court will consider factors like the length of the relationship, any agreements between the spouses, and the circumstances surrounding the acquisition of property or incurrence of debts.