Ontario Superior Court rules wife and mother share ownership of disputed property in divorce case

The decision impacts the wife's net family property calculation for equalization payments

Ontario Superior Court rules wife and mother share ownership of disputed property in divorce case

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice rules that the wife and her mother share beneficial ownership of a disputed property, which impacts the wife's net family property calculation.

The husband solely owned the matrimonial home. Shortly before the marriage, he purchased the property, which became a point of contention. The court focused on whether a different property, a mixed-use condominium in Richmond Hill, should be included in the wife's net family property.

The wife’s mother, Roya Souzankari, initially bought the property in 2014. Roya later assigned the purchase to her daughter, who took title upon closing. The property was sold with net proceeds of over $340,000 deposited into the wife’s account and then transferred to Roya for a cottage purchase.

The husband argued that the condominium should be fully included in the wife's net family property, valuing the equity at zero at the date of marriage and considering all net proceeds as part of the wife’s assets. The wife contended that she held the property in trust for her mother and sought to exclude it from her net family property entirely.

The Superior Court acknowledged that many facts were undisputed, including Roya's initial purchase agreement and subsequent amendments assigning the contract to the wife. It was also undisputed that Roya paid significant deposits and that the wife became the sole mortgagor. However, the court had to resolve whether Roya retained a beneficial interest in the property.

The court found that both the wife and Roya contributed to the property's acquisition. The wife paid the mortgage and other expenses, while Roya made significant down payments. The court determined that Roya held a 64 percent beneficial interest in the property, and the wife held 36 percent. This conclusion was drawn despite discrepancies and credibility issues in the testimonies regarding mortgage payments and the property’s use.

The court calculated the wife's share of the property at the date of marriage and the date of separation. Her 36 percent interest was valued at $105,182.29 on the date of marriage and $123,059.50 on the date of separation. These amounts will be included in her net family property calculation for the purposes of any equalization payment.

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