BC Supreme Court deals with complex property and separation agreement dispute

The case involves a couple with a complex marital history of two marriages and two divorces

BC Supreme Court deals with complex property and separation agreement dispute

In a recent family law case, the BC Supreme Court addressed a dispute involving Shelley Louise Miller and Mustapha Khaled El-Hafi, a couple with a complex marital history of two marriages and two divorces.

In Miller v El-Hafi, 2024 BCSC 269, the court addressed disputes concerning the ownership of a property in Kelowna and the validity of a separation agreement the couple signed in 2017. The couple first married in 1989, divorced in 1997, remarried in 1999, and finally divorced again in 2018, sharing two children born in 2000 and 2002. The legal contention emerged when Miller sought to challenge the 2017 separation agreement and claim rights over the Kelowna property, alleging El-Hafi had not disclosed the property at the time they signed the agreement.

El-Hafi had purchased the Kelowna property in 2011 in joint tenancy with Patricia Ireland, a transaction Miller claimed to have been unaware of. Her discovery of the property through a private investigator in 2020 prompted her to amend her notice of family claim, highlighting her lack of knowledge about the property when she agreed to the separation terms.

The BC Supreme Court granted Miller's application to amend her notice of family claim, which allowed her to specify her demands regarding child and spousal support and elaborate on her claims for the division of property and debts. These amendments included requests for both prospective and retroactive child support, recalculations of spousal support, and an assertion for an unequal division of family property and debt. The amendments aimed to rectify the alleged lack of disclosure and the necessity for informed consent in negotiating separation agreements.

The court ordered that the trial first address the two threshold issues—determining the beneficial ownership of the Kelowna Property and assessing the validity of the 2017 Separation Agreement. This decision highlighted the critical nature of these issues in resolving the broader dispute.

Ultimately, the court allowed the proposed amendments to the notice of family claim and set the trial date for the two threshold issues on the beneficial ownership of the Kelowna Property and whether the Separation Agreement should be set aside.

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