High asset divorce in Alberta: Wealth and court don’t mix well

On behalf of Gary Kirk of Kirk Montoute Dawson LLP posted in High Asset Divorce on Tuesday, September 12, 2017.

More than 40 percent of all marriages in Canada will end in divorce and most are labelled “no fault.” Wealthy, married Canadian couples usually have no problem paying for a divorce. But in high asset divorce cases in Alberta, the best scenario moving forward with divorce action is to try to stay clear of the court room. 

Separating couples will generally lose control of the process and of the outcome if their divorce case ends up in the hands of the court. With the foray into the court system comes escalating costs that even the wealthy would generally like to avoid. Hiring an appraiser to ascertain the value of joint assets may be a wise decision.

Having the advice of an Alberta lawyer who has experience with high asset divorce is usually crucial in these divorce cases. Such a lawyer would be able to utilize the expertise of forensic accountants and appraisers, which would help the case to stay out of the court system. These specialists may also be able to uncover undisclosed assets by either or each spouse.

In most provinces, assets are split by taking into consideration the total value of the assets on the separation date minus the value of assets each partner initially brought into the marriage or partnership. There are certain exceptions like inheritances or gifts. An inheritance may be able to be kept out of the mix if it was not used to pay down the mortgage on a home owned jointly or if the money was in a separate account. 

In these high asset divorce cases, legal expertise is invaluable. Wealthy Alberta couples who are splitting up need to seek out the guidance of a family law lawyer before making any final decisions regarding their assets. Such a lawyer will also be able to help in fashioning new wills and powers of attorney in these divorce cases.

Source: theglobeandmail.com, “Note to wealthy people considering divorce: Stay out of court“, Danielle Boudreau, Accessed on Sept. 1, 2017

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