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Family Property Division

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How is high net worth and international family property division dealt with?

A couple who is seeking divorce in Canada but has acquired international property have many complex issues to deal with upon separation. Provincial Family Law Acts also have specific rules regarding property division and excluded property.

A Canadian court does not have jurisdiction over foreign property, but there are various remedies to track and account for foreign assets, so there is an equitable division of property. There are remedies in Canadian courts regarding equalization payments that can even the distribution of international property values to both spouses. If there is an unfair division of property because of foreign ownership, a Canadian court may grant a greater share of Canadian assets to account for foreign property that may not be in a spouses name.

How do I ensure my spouse has not hidden or disposed of property?

Canadian courts have precedents to outline the compliance with equalization of family property under Canadian law, but often foreign owned property or assets may be hidden or set up in a convoluted ownership.

We have expertise in obtaining immediate property restraining orders including Section 91 family Law Act orders, Anton Pillar raid orders and worldwide MAREVA injunction:

Lorne MacLean, QC and his team have helped set the law for BC and Canada on how to protect their clients against non-disclosure of hidden assets and income including:

  • Obtaining forensic audits of businesses, ventures and professional practices to discover missing income and assets;
  • Secure special costs at all levels including the Supreme Court of Canada and even jail time against non-disclosing spouses;
  • Successfully cross-examining untruthful spouses in a number of cases to to expose millions of dollars of extra income and assets after a tireless search for the truth on behalf of our clients.

Our family has substantial personal and corporate assets in multiple jurisdictions. Where do we file the divorce for the most favourable financial outcome?

International and inter-jurisdictional family property cases involve strategic planning to decide which country will provide the maximum divorce and family law financial benefits to you for spousal and child support and property division proceedings. We will assess where the most favourable place for you to have your trial proceedings decided is, and help you achieve the maximum family law financial benefits by selecting the best place for you to deal with family support and financial issues.

When deciding the best place for your case to be heard, we will assess:

  • What jurisdiction’s law should apply and consider whether the law of any initial jurisdiction you were connected with was “community property or not and whether there is any marriage contract;
  • What place the parties first lived together and what the law governing family relationships is in BC, and any potential foreign jurisdiction is for your particular relationship history;
  • What jurisdiction the parties are more connected to, both past and present;
  • Where the majority witnesses currently reside and the balance of convenience;
  • Where the majority of assets are located;
  • Whether jurisdictions outside BC will recognize BC family law orders;
  • A number of other factors which will be considered by a BC court before it decides to exercise international family property division jurisdiction.


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