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How Assets Are Divided in a Divorce or Separation

House divided during a divorce

The average marriage in Canada lasts 14 years, and 42% of divorces happen between 10-24 years of marriage. When you decide to divorce or separate from your spouse, one of the first questions you may have is how your assets will be divided. The law uses two categories in the division, one is family property and the other is excluded property.


We are going to explain the process of making property divisions here. To ensure that all divisions are made fairly and in accordance with the law, you will want to contact a divorce lawyer in Prince George to make sure you receive an equal and fair settlement.


Asset Division in Divorce

According to the Family Law Act, both you and your spouse are entitled to family property and are both responsible for family debt. This is regardless of your use or contribution to the accumulation of those assets and debts.


Family property includes all personal property and real property you and your spouse own as of the date of separation. This includes items that may be held only in one name, but by law are family property:

  • Property owned by at least one spouse or one spouse has a beneficial interest

  • Property or beneficial interest acquired by one spouse after separation if obtained using family property

  • Interest or share of a corporation, partnership, association, organization, business, or venture

  • Property owing to a spouse such as an income tax refund

  • Money of either spouse in a financial institution account

  • Entitlement under an annuity, pension plan, retirement plan, or income plan

  • Trust property under certain provisions


Although the above seems to be all-inclusive, there are several items that are excluded from the family property, including:

  • Property a spouse obtained prior to the marriage

  • A spouse’s inheritance

  • Gifts to one spouse from a third party

  • A settlement or award of damages to one spouse for compensation for injury or loss

  • Insurance policy payments other than in respect to the property unless the payment is for loss to both spouses or loss of income to a spouse

  • Trust property under certain provisions


When you are claiming you have property that is subject to exclusion from division you are responsible for proving the reasons for exclusion. Dick Byl Law Corp. has the experience to assist you in making determinations on property division and evidence necessary to substantiate an exclusion.


Co-Mingling Affects Division

While it may appear simple for the exclusion of certain property, if you co-mingle those assets with marital property, you may lose that exclusion. 


For example, you inherit $200,000 then place that money into a joint account with your spouse. You then use that money to purchase a home. The assets have been co-mingled.


The court may decide that you gave part of your inheritance to your spouse as a gift when sharing the assets and at that point, it became family property. If you wish to have specific property maintain its exclusion, you must keep it separate throughout your marriage.

Debt Division

When you divorce, in addition to assets you must also divide all the family debt. This includes mortgages, credit cards, income tax, loans, repairs to the home, and more. Debt division is set forth under the Family Law Act, Section 86

Why You Need a Divorce Lawyer in Prince George

Every marriage and divorce is different, and there are times when the court may order that the division of family assets and divorce be unequal. Consideration on division takes into account the length of the marriage, written agreements between the two of you, the reasons for extensive debt or assets, and more.


Dick Byl Law Corp. is an experienced divorce lawyer in Prince George. Their firm is knowledgeable on all British Columbia divorce laws and will make sure that you receive an equitable settlement.


Contact Dick Byl Law Corporation by either email ( or phone (250-564-3400) to discuss your case.



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