It’s never easy when a marriage comes to an end and beyond the emotional difficulties that individuals must face, there are also a number of additional practical considerations that need to be taken into account as well, such as the division of property. When it comes to the law, misconceptions are not unusual, and property entitlements after the end of a marriage are no exception. Therefore, we here at FindLaw will try and dispel some of the more common myths when it comes to property settlement at the end of a marital relationship.
Any property owned before the marriage remains with the purchaser
Generally speaking, any property owned prior to the marriage may still belong to the party who purchased the property. However, the law may also treat the property as a contribution to the relationship, and the longer the marriage, the less important a factor pre-marriage property ownership becomes. There are no hard and fast rules as to the minimum length of time parties need to be married to one another for the property to be considered as jointly owned, and it will be up to the court to decide on the facts of each case whether the property forms part of the marital relationship, or still belongs to an individual spouse.
Any gifts and inheritances will belong to the party who has been bestowed with the property
A party to a marriage who receives any gifts or inheritances may generally keep such entitlements with spouses not automatically entitled to ownership of the property. However, similar to pre-marital property ownership, the longer the parties remain married, the less important individual ownership may become for gifts and inheritances.
A person who chooses to leave the marriage will lose their property rights
Just because a person chooses to end a marriage, does not mean that they lose any ownership rights over property. The spouse still retains any property rights they have acquired over the course of the marriage, and will generally not lose such rights just because they do not wish to remain in the relationship any longer.
All property obtained during the marriage will result in an even split
There is no automatic 50-50 split of property assets when marriages come to an end, but rather, the court considers the needs of the parties based on the facts of each individual case.
It’s none of their "business"
Many individuals may embark on successful business enterprises during the marriage, and may believe that their spouse isn’t entitled to a share of the business. However, if a spouse has assisted with business affairs, such as answering phones, entertaining clients, or designing a logo for example, the court may view such behaviours as contributing factors to the success of the business. Alternatively, if a spouse has taken care of the household duties, such as maintaining the home or providing care to children in order for the other spouse to conduct their business, such actions may also be considered as an indirect contribution to the success.