Keep in mind, however, that everything is negotiable. Deciding who pays for ongoing home expenses during the separation, who foots the travel costs to see the kids, even what utilities and discretionary expenses will be paid and by whom, are all part of the process.
Sadly, this is when nasty tactics might occur. For instance, the spouse who leaves the marital home can stop making mortgage and housing payments, or be routinely late in making those payments. It’s a technique designed to hurt the other spouse, who is relying on those payments, so that any settlement, even an unfair settlement, will start to look good. But don’t be fooled. Even if your soon-to-be ex is unco-operative or withholding financial support, it’s possible to proceed with a divorce and to sort out the family home.
The key is to remember this is all temporary and, eventually, a formal settlement will force your spouse to face reality. Until that formal hearing, however, just be sure you continue to pay your mortgage and all associated housing and utility costs. As long as your name remains on the mortgage (and other utility bills), you are financially liable for the debt even if you no longer occupy or have anything to do with the property.
“Even if you both agree that your spouse will keep the house, as long as your name appears on the mortgage, you are legally responsible for that debt,” says Judith Muratoff, a real estate agent in Maple Ridge, B.C., and one of the few divorce specialists in the province. Neglecting to make those payments could destroy your credit score and your chance at qualifying for a mortgage or loan in the near future.
Keep a paper trail of all payments and, when you head into court, bring the itemized and documented list of what you paid, and when. The courts will factor this into their calculations for the final estate split.
What to do if a spouse is lying or hiding assets
In Canada, family law is dictated by provincial law, but despite small differences, most jurisdictions make it fairly easy for a divorcing couple to predict, in advance, how assets and property will be divided, and the support entitlements each is entitled to.
For a minority of people, however, this ability to predict will prompt attempts to lie about income or hide assets, in an attempt to lower the possible hefty child or spousal support obligation to the other spouse.
These “creative” tricks can include dubious transfers to corporations or offshore accounts, or making notional “gifts” to extended family or friends. Regardless of the tactic, each is designed to put assets out of easy reach. One method is to transfer money or property to another family member in an effort to remove the asset from the equalization process.
In this article you state the separation date is used as the valuation date…the value of our matrimonial home has increased from 500,000 to 725,000 separation date 2018 ….according to my legal advice my buyout of my spouse in based on todays market value of 725,000 even though spouse has made no contributions before, during or after the separation date as both names are on title, she vacated the home on the separation date…this is conflicting information..can you comment as to received your information to this regard? Thanking you in advance.
Thanks for the question. We invite you to email your question to [email protected], where it will be considered for a future response by one of our expert columnists. For personal advice, we suggest consulting with your financial institution or a qualified advisor.
And of course Quebec is completely different especially if it a common law relationship. The name on the asset is much more important here than elsewhere. It is only in child support where things would be similar across jurisdictions.
Carolyn Fleck…. they didn’t post an answer to your question below and I’m curious of the result. My situation is/was: Common Law marriage with 1 kid. We have an agreed upon separation date of February 2019. We finalized the “legal separation” (ie. signed) in September 2020. All assets were divided up to the recognized February 2019 separation date, I refinanced and paid the agreed upon equalization payment. Lawyers were involved. This should be a done deal, I hope…. . However, she is still living in MY house in a non-marriage type setting (separate rooms, no sex, separate trips, etc.), even though its been 2.5 years past the separation date. Reason being is young kid, Covid 19, and a VERY competitive real estate market (she has been actively viewing and bidding on several houses for months but to no avail). My concern is that the value of my house has gone up at least $150,000 since we legally separated and she could try to state the agreement was unfair (not my fault the markets went up post separation!) or make some claim that we are still in some sort of relationship, or we could possibly be considered common law again since she has technically lived here more than 2 years post separation- sort of reset, and therefore go after the increased valuation of my home again. I previously owned house before she moved in and am the sole person on the title then and now. I’m trying to be understanding that the markets are competitive and she doesn’t want to waste money on rent elsewhere in the meantime, so I am paying 100% of the utilities and Mortgage and she is essentially living here rent free. Pretty good deal for her except for the increasing housing market she will eventually have to buy into. If I ever had to pay her off more, all the sudden I will owe more mortgage than what I owed 17 years ago before even knowing her. That would seem very unfair. I just don’t want to get burned for essentially being a nice guy and letting her stay here. Any chance of that happening?
Due to the large volume of comments we receive, we regret that we are unable to respond directly to each one. We invite you to email your question to [email protected], where it will be considered for a future response by one of our expert columnists. For personal advice, we suggest consulting with a qualified advisor.