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Debt, Gifts, Inheritance and Divorce

Property division goes beyond what’s sitting in your bank account.

Knowing your personal bottom line — your assets and debts, including your stake in the matrimonial home — is not as simple as adding up your cash and property. During the financial assessment process in an Ontario divorce, your professional advisors must take into account the legal regime that governs divorce settlements. For the purposes of property division, debts and gifts are handled differently and an informed analysis of your financial portfolio is necessary.

Elliot S. Birnboim, counsel at, is a Toronto family law lawyer as well as a commercial litigator at the Bay Street firm of Chitiz Pathak LLP. He has an extensive history of complex litigation involving significant assets. He provides effective representation at all stages of the process, including the identification and proper valuation of all assets and debts.

A gift is not always a gift.

As a general rule, gifts and inheritances are excluded from the calculation of net family property, as long as the gift is in a recognizable form at the time of separation. Often, establishing whether an asset should be excluded requires significant financial investigation, but a potential example of an excluded gift might be artwork inherited by one spouse, if it remains intact. If the artwork was sold off for cash, it might become part of the equalization calculation.

Similarly, if parents give money to their child to purchase the matrimonial home, that is no longer a gift — it is part of the asset that is the matrimonial home.

Debts are part of the calculation.

Your spouse’s debt is not your debt, if you did not sign for it — but it is part of the equalization calculation. Finding debt, and valuing it, is an important part of the work we do for clients. We also are adept at finding hidden assets — those that are in the name of another person, but properly belong to one spouse or another.

With financial savvy and family law experience, Elliot S. Birnboim can give you the representation you need in your divorce case — and achieve the settlement that is fair for you and your children.

Call us for a free consultation.

There is no charge to meet with us. Get in touch today for a free consultation. Call 1.800.648.7943 or 416-800-2573. You can also use our online contact form to send us an email.

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