It sometimes takes a divorce for couples to realize that marriage is a partnership and that financial issues are a major part of the divorce process. Of course, there is more to a marriage than assets and debts. For couples with children, custody and the ability to spend time with them after the parents are no longer living together as a married couple is a key part of any settlement agreement or court decision, but child support and other financial considerations regarding children must also be addressed. Understanding the financial aspects of a divorce is essential to ensure that you are financially prepared to move on with your post-divorce life.
Recognizing the equal contribution of the parties to a marriage
If you speak with a family lawyer in Ontario or elsewhere in Canada, be prepared for questions about what you and your spouse own, your incomes and other inquiries pertaining to finances. One of the things the lawyer must do is identify marital assets.
Money, real estate and other real and personal property acquired during the marriage are classified as marital property subject to being divided between you and your spouse as part of the divorce process. Classification of some assets as marital can be simple, such as the joint purchase of the home a couple lives in with their children, but some assets are more difficult to classify.
For example, a home you owned prior to getting married and that has remained in your name during the marriage might appear at first glance to be your property and not subject to division. However, your lawyer probably will ask for more information about it, such as whether you and your spouse did any renovations on it using funds accumulated during the marriage. The increase in the value of the home could be classified as a marital asset subject to division.
Some assets are treated as excluded property, the term used for non-marital assets. Examples of excluded property are the following:
- Gift received from someone other than your spouse
- An inheritance to you and not to both you and your spouse
- Property you or your spouse acquired after you separated and were no longer living together
Misclassifying property can affect how you benefit from the property division during a divorce. For example, an inheritance received solely by your spouse and claimed as excluded property in the divorce might actually be a marital asset if it was used to acquire the matrimonial home.
Both parents share a responsibility to provide support for their children during the marriage, and that does not change when the parents separate or end the marriage through a divorce. The amount you or your spouse should pay toward child support is governed by guidelines contained in the federal Divorce Act. It is recommended that parents reach a negotiated agreement instead of relying upon a judge to order it.
It frequently happens that one spouse might have an advantage as far as the ability to earn an income. A divorce puts the party with the lower income at a distinct economic disadvantage. Spousal support is a method of addressing this inequity.
Factors courts take into consideration in granting spousal support include:
* How long the parties were married.
* The role in the marriage served by each spouse.
* Existing support orders or agreements.
Spousal support is intended to provide the spouse who is at an economic disadvantage with a means of support while he or she adjusts to life outside of the marriage. Misconduct on the part of either spouse during the divorce is not a factor in a court’s decision whether or not to grant spousal support.
Get advice from an experienced lawyer
It is important that you have a clear understanding of your legal rights and obligations in a divorce. The advice and guidance of an experienced family lawyer is critical in achieving a fair and equitable resolution of financial issues associated with your divorce.