One of the most valuable assets a person or family will ever purchase is a matrimonial home. It’s understandable, then, that determining what happens to the family home when there is a separation or divorce can lead to issues that are difficult to resolve. Typically, a family home is either sold, with the proceeds divided between the parties or one of the parties purchases the interest in the home from the other party. But before any of that occurs, there must first be an agreement on what the home is worth. A dispute on this topic led a formal couple to appear before the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

Background

The parties were married on June 9, 2001. They had three children (aged 15, 13, and 8 at the time of the hearing) before they separated on September 29, 2015. The court was tasked with helping the couple work through a number of issues, including some related to the matrimonial home.

The wife, who continued to live in the home after the separation, had the home appraised in the summer of 2016. The appraisal determined the home was worth $735,000. She also explained in her affidavit that she had to repair the home’s roof in the spring of 2017 at a cost of over $17,000.

The husband, who did not hire an appraiser, responded that he believed the home should be valued at $850,000. He later claimed its value was $800,000, yet he had no evidence to support his position. In answering why, the husband claimed he cannot be required to provide a value of the home, and that its value can only really be determined upon its sale.

The court disagrees

The court responded to the husband’s position by writing “In my view, he is wrong in that position.”

The court quoted a decision from 2004 which stated,

“The Family Law Act contains provisions designed to ensure full and fair disclosure of assets and income so as to foster early settlement of all of the issues. Section 8 of the Act imposes an obligation on each party to deliver a sworn statement disclosing particulars of that party’s property, debts and other liabilities. Each spouse has the burden of establishing the value of the property that she or he owned on the valuation date (see: Menage v. Hedges). The obligation on the owner of an asset can extend so far as to require the owner to obtain an expert evaluation.”

The husband also submitted that the valuation should be a shared expense. However, the court responded that case law does not support that. Additionally, the wife had already paid for one appraisal. If the husband did the same, she would have effectively shared the expense. The court was also critical of the husband going to court to argue he should not be made to obtain an appraisal, writing “It is beyond me how such a motion could be argued without first determining whether the expense was more or less than litigating the issue in the first place.”

The court ordered the husband to provide a value of the home within 30 days.

It can be a difficult and complicated process to divide property after a separation or divorce. The experienced and compassionate team of family lawyers at Borden Family Law is ready to help you deal with the stressful process of dividing property. We focus solely on family law, which means our team has an in-depth knowledge of the family law system, including the technical legal rules and trial strategies necessary to be successful. Please call us at 905.576.6090 or through the contact form below to talk today.