Lethbridge & Area Divorce Lawyer R. Travis Bissett Discusses Matrimonial Property Division


“Although their marital union failed, the parties have been successfully united in litigation for the past seven years over the division of matrimonial property”

This statement was made by a Justice of the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta in the judgment of Fercho v. Dos Santos [2006] A.J. No. 1564 (Alta. Q.B.). This reflects the complex matrimonial property law that separating parties must endure. A matrimonial property lawyer is trained in simplifying the process. This is done by first understanding the different legal categories of matrimonial property and then applying what law is available to sort out each specific category. This analysis can then be presented to the former spouse or, if there is no agreement, this analysis can be presented to the Court.

A simple example is if property at separation was obtained prior to the relationship, the market value at a certain date would be exempt from any division. The increase in value since the relationship may also be exempt depending on a number of detailed factors.

This type of detailed fact/law analysis is absolutely crucial to prevent an unfair and unjust distribution of property upon relationship breakdown. The tools of this analysis include appraisals at various dates, legal research for similar decided cases as your case, and various legal fact finding exercises.

A matrimonial property lawyer can also protect you against “hard ball” litigation schemes. One scheme that still exists in some circles is a scheme where someone takes advantage of their former spouse by using matrimonial property limitation periods to exclude a matrimonial property division. The scheme can be quite complex and is beyond the scope of this blog, however, it is based on the fact that matrimonial property applications must be filed within a certain period of time. One spouse drags one part of the separation out in order to trigger the matrimonial property limitation. The result is that the spouse that has no property in their name may get next to nothing from hard earned assets.

If you are currently facing, or considering a common law separation, divorce or other family law matter in the province of Alberta or would like a second opinion regarding your situation I am happy to speak with you. Contact Travis Bissett at 403-328-5577 or e-mail at tbissett@stringam.ca.

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