Make an agreement or apply to court

We're married. Do we have to divide our property and debts if we separate or divorce?
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Make an agreement or apply to court

If you and your partner agree on how to divide your property after your separation, you and can make a separation agreement that says how you divide your property and debts. This usually says who pays the other an equalization payment.

The law also allows you and your partner to make a separation agreement that divides things in a different way than through an equalization payment. You can even agree not to divide property and debts at all.

But most people use the equalization payment at least as a guide when deciding how to divide property because that is what they usually have the right to under Ontario law. So they look at this first before deciding if they want to agree to divide their property differently.

If you and your partner can't agree, you can ask a family law professional to help you resolve your issues. Or, you can go to court and ask a judge to decide.

There are 3 courts that deal with family law issues in Ontario. But only 2 deal with property issues – the Superior Court of Justice and the Family Court branch of the Superior Court of Justice. The Ontario Court of Justice cannot divide property.

Time limit

The time limit to make a claim in court for an equalization payment is 6 years after you and your partner separate or 2 years after you divorce, whichever happens first.

Sometimes a court gives you more time. But you have to explain why you needed more time to ask for an equalization payment.

Marriage Contract

If you signed a marriage contract or a cohabitation agreement but one of you no longer wants to follow it, you or your partner can ask the court to make an order that divides your property in the way you agreed to in your agreement.

You May Also Need

CLEO (Community Legal Education Ontario/Éducation juridique communautaire Ontario)
Reviewed: July 15, 2019

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