Upon separation many people wonder what happens to household contents? What about family photos, pets, and personal clothing? What about items I brought into the marriage?
In Ontario, equalization of net family properties are dealt with in Part I of the Family Law Act. However, this legislation requires that “the spouse whose net family property is the lesser of the two net family properties is entitled to one-half the difference between them.” (s. 5(1) Family Law Act).
This does not provide clarity however for the countless meaningful and useful items couples may use, acquire, receive as gifts or make over the course of their relationship. This definition deals with property values and not the individual items. It is meant to be a one time payment.
At the same time courts are often reluctant to go through an item by item listing of goods. It is a time consuming and very emotional process when it does happen.
In Biocevich v. Biocevich,  WDFL 712, the Court enforced Minutes of Settlement which stated “The household contents shall be physically divided to produce an equal division and failing agreement the same shall be appraised and then divided.” This is one approach courts may use. They may also take other factors into consideration such as where are the children, if any, residing, and issues of premarital ownership.
Household contents are also an issue for cohabiting partners. In these cases legal ownership is more important, although claims can be made for contributions made to acquire higher priced items.
Getting early and clear advice from legal professional will make the property division process quicker and easier. Every situation is different. Some items require valuation. Other items do not.
If you have questions about your divorce or separation, or asset or property division contact Windsor family law lawyers Mary Fox, Tanya McNevin or Thomas MacKay today by calling 519-259-1820. We serve clients in Windsor, Tecumseh, Lasalle, Essex, Leamington, Kingsville, Belle River, Lakeshore, and throughout southern Ontario.