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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 valuation of all assets and debts and issues related to inheritance upon divorce in Ontario.

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.


Situations involving inheritance and divorce in Ontario are often complicated. They should be handled by a Toronto lawyer experienced with inheritance issues as an integral part of the assets/debt division. Inheritance upon divorce laws in Ontario can be challenging to navigate. Our team can skillfully help you assess whether the value of gifts or inheritances received by you or your spouse during the marriage are excluded from the division of property upon separation or divorce.

Debts are part of the calculation.

Dividing debt in a divorce in Ontario is an essential part of the process. 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 to help determine the equal division of debt. 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. During a divorce, both assets and debts should be evaluated by a Toronto divorce lawyer to ensure you are protected and receive your fair share.

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.

When you need the services of a Toronto divorce lawyer to help sort out the finer details surrounding inheritance upon divorce in Ontario, inheritance divorce laws, division of debt and how gifts are treated under Ontario laws, we can help.

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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