Dividing up matrimonial property

One of the most common and important duties a family law lawyer performs is dividing up matrimonial property in an equitable manner.

One of the most common and important duties a family law lawyer performs is dividing up matrimonial property in an equitable manner.

While it is clear that the matrimonial home, household belongings, pensions, RRSPs and such are to be included, from time to time the question arises as to if the property is actually property at all and thus would it be subject to a matrimonial property settlement. The courts have often wrestled with this question, and below are a few examples.

Club memberships — A club membership such as to a golf club or tennis club can be quite expensive and the courts have generally viewed them as property. If the membership is obtained during the course of the marriage, it will likely be determined to be matrimonial property and have to be split in some way between the parties. This has been dealt with in various ways: (1) a spouse may be ordered to continue to pay the fees so that the other may continue to enjoy the use of the membership; (2) a spouse may be ordered to obtain a membership for the other or be ordered to pay to the other an amount equal to obtaining a membership; or, (3) a spouse may be ordered to buy out the interest of the other for half the current value of the membership.

This appears to be the most common and it is important to note that the value of the membership is calculated based on what it would be worth at the time of the separation, and not at the time the membership was purchased. Also of note for all sports fans is that it is likely that season tickets would be dealt with in a similar fashion.

Air miles — Again the courts have generally determined that Air miles are property and those points accumulated throughout the marriage are deemed to be matrimonial property and subject to an equal division. The courts have most commonly ordered that any points accumulated are to be split equally between the spouses.

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