Splitting Assets and Debts

You need to know what you and your spouse are worth together and what you're worth on your own. It sounds like a big job but it comes down to a simple equation:
Net Worth = Assets - Liabilities.

It does get a little more complicated. There are three categories of assets:

Divorce is a federal responsibility in Canada, but the division of property between separating/divorcing spouses is under provincial jurisdiction and each province and territory has its own set of laws to cover these issues. You should be able to get basic information from your provincial government in the form of brochures and booklets about what your province's laws are dealing with property on the breakup of a marriage. If you have substantial assets – or debts – you should consult a lawyer.

Be sure to consider the future value of these assets. If you give up pension, for example, in exchange for keeping the house or up-front money, you may feel short-changed when you reach retirement age. A pension can be very valuable down the road.

You may need to appraise real estate, artwork and collectibles to determine their value. If you both own a business, you will need to value it to determine the amount needed to buy out the other spouse's share of the business. To learn more about divorce proceedings in Canada, visit the Divorce Act.

Information You Will Need

Gather your paperwork into one container, preferably mobile, that will help prepare and organize you for your first encounters with your lawyer. If you have your finances in order, you won't have to pay a lawyer to discover this information. Included should be:

Depending on what is being contested, you may also want to keep records for the following:

Remember, if you have your finances in order, you won't have to pay a lawyer to discover this information.

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