There is no simple answer to whether or not you get half of your spouse’s property in divorce. The cute portrayal of a house being physically sawed into two pieces is not always the way it works. Also, a quick uninformed calculation may end up costing you many times more than a careful and skilled legal review.

The division of property between married spouses on separation is called “equalization of net family property”.  The payment from one spouse to the other is called an “equalization payment”.  The relevant date for the purpose of calculating the equalization payment is the date of separation.  The equalization calculation can be done when one applies for a Divorce Order but it is not necessary to wait to be divorced to resolve your property rights once separated.

Property that is owned by one spouse only is equalized based on its value as at the date of separation.  Jointly owned property, that is, property owned by both spouses, is divided as at the date of settlement or determination by the Court.

After a legal review and calculation, the spouse who has the higher net family property is the one who pays the other spouse an equalization payment.   The equalization payment is determined after the calculation of each party’s net family property as at the date of separation.

But what is property?  Property is actually any asset which you own as at the date of separation including, but not limited to, real estate, business interests, pensions, household items and furniture; vehicles; jewellery, art, electronics, tools, sports and hobby equipment, bank accounts and investments.

To calculate a party’s Net Family Property, you start by determining a party’s total assets, from which the following is deducted to arrive at the value of the net family property for equalization purposes:  assets owned as at the date of marriage (called deductions); gifts from third parties (but not from the other spouse) as at the date of separation; inheritances as at the date of separation (called exclusions); and debts and liabilities.

So what you are actually entitled to, is half of the difference between of the net family properties of both parties.  For example, if your spouse has net family property of $200,000.00 and you have net family property of $100,000.00 then your spouse pays you $50,000.00 to equalize your properties, leaving each of you with $150,000.00.

This may sound simple but we have seen the misinterpretation of even one number in this calculation causing a loss to one of the spouses in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.  Let us help you with a careful and skilled review of all the necessary documents and values required to ensure you get your fair share when the relationship is over.  Email Valda at or call 416-987-3300.