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Does That Property Belong To Your Spouse?

Does That Property Belong To Your Spouse?

March 14, 2024

By Brian Babcock 

A spouse may not pursue a claim that the other spouse has a beneficial interest in a property held for them.

What does this mean?

Assume a scenario where there is a married couple. One spouse, A, owns a property which is registered on title as being jointly owned with their parent B. But A has advanced the money for the property, and has always said it is really theirs – that B holds B’s registered or legal title in trust for A.

Now the marriage breaks down. Equalization of net family property is required. That in turn requires both parties to file a financial statement to list their assets. On A’s statement, they do not include B’s interest in the property.


Can the other spouse, C, sue B for a declaration that B’s interest is held in trust for A, and require A to show that value on their financial statement?


“No” says the Ontario Court of Appeal in Karatzoglou v. Commisso . They say plainly a person does not have standing to advance a trust claim on behalf of a former spouse for equalization purposes.”

C may still have recourse – they can ask for an unequal division of the net family property, based on the value of the possible trust interest of A, but this requires proof that it would be unconscionable to maintain the presumed equal division. Ontario judges do not readily grant unequal divisions, whether C would succeed would depend upon the entire circumstances of the equalization. The possible trust would only be one factor added to the mix.


This is just one example of the complex and confusing issues that can arise in a marriage breakdown.

Sure, you are allowed to represent yourself , even in Superior Court proceeding  to equalize assets, but only an experienced lawyer can make sure that you get everything that you deserve.


The family law team at Weilers LLP have decades of experience assisting people like you, a time when you need expert help the most. For any family law questions, feel free to contact us and see if we are the right lawyers for you.