When family property does not have to be divided equally

hands on a bookThe Family Law Act sets out the regime by which property is divided when a married couple separates. Because marriage is considered a partnership, with each person bringing equal but different contributions to that partnership, the property they accumulate during the years of marriage is to be shared equally between them, regardless of who paid for it or whose name it is registered in. This regime can be set aside when to divide the property equally would result in an inconscionable outcome for one party.

Such situations are rare. However, a 2013 case in which the father had remained in the family home with the three children, paid all the family’s expenses, including debt payments, and raised the children on his own and the mother made no contribution to the household expenses, the mortgage, the debt or the children’s expenses has been found to be such a situation. In Panchalingam v Pathmalingam 2013 CarswellOnt 8578 (Ont. S.C.J.), the judge ruled that the husband did not have to share the value of the matrimonial home with his former wife because she had failed to make any contribution to the family’s finances or to the raising of the children.