Family property is property that is owned by either one or both spouses on the date of separation. Determining what is, and what is not, family property is important. This is because the law presumes
that both spouses have an equal half interest in all family property. For example, if one spouse owns a house on the date that the parties separate, that house is considered family property, so the law assumes that both spouses have an interest in the house.
Family property is not limited only to houses, instead it can include property such as interest in companies and businesses, outstanding debts owed to one spouse, and any bank accounts, savings, investments, pensions, or RRSPs. But beware - not everything is considered family property.
Some property may be classified as“excluded property”. Excluded property is property that is not considered family property, so the law will not presume that both spouses have an interest in it. There are several categories of excluded property, including property acquired prior to the start of the relationship, gifts given to one spouse (rather than to the couple), inheritances, certain settlements and insurance payments, and sometimes property that’s held in trust (for the benefit of another) by one spouse. It should be noted that any increase in value of excluded property acquired prior to the start of the relationship will be considered family property.
Once parties separate, the law will presume any property owned by at least one spouse on the separation date is family property. If a spouse claims certain property as “excluded”, then they
must provide evidence to support this claim. In other words, the law does not assume that property is excluded merely because it falls into one of the above-mentioned categories.
If you’d like to learn more about familyproperty and how it affects your claim, contact us to see how we can help you.