How to prevent a spouse from taking assets in a divorce

Q. I’m a Canadian citizen and I would like to get married soon. I have heard that if I divorce at any time then 50% of my wealth will be divided with my spouse. What can I do to protect my assets? For instance, if I kept my assets outside Canada (in another country) if a divorce were to happen, can my wife then claim for a 50% division of those assets?

– Worried and confused, Ali

A: Ali, rules for separation and divorce differ from province to province. Leaving your assets, in another country hosts a variety of problems too big to discuss in this forum.

The easy answer is to protect your assets that were established prior to becoming married is to have a prenuptial agreement executed. This clearly establishes what you owned prior to being married, and assuming it is executed and signed properly, would always stand to protect those assets.

The matrimonial law that establishes what is available to be split upon the breakdown of a marriage normally points assets grown during the time of the marriage. However, any commingled assets or assets used to purchase the matrimonial home may be exceptions to this if not protected properly.

The best course of action is to keep full documentation that proves what you had as a pre-existing asset so that there is perfect clarity at all times.

Debbie Hartzman is a Certified Financial Planner, a Chartered Life Underwriter and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst in Kingston, Ont. She is also the author of ‘Divorce is not easy, but it can be fair.’



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