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MARITAL PROPERTY - Equalization or division - Exempt acquisitions and deductions

Thursday, July 23, 2020 @ 9:38 AM  

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Appeal by the wife and cross-appeal by the husband from trial judgment in a family law trial. The trial judge dismissed the wife’s claim for spousal support and ordered the husband to pay $71,281 to her for an equal division of family property and debt. The wife argued the judge erred in her assessment of the values attributed to two pieces of real property, the husband’s business and bank account and a patent. She also argued the judge erred in denying her claim for spousal support. The husband argued the judge erred by concluding the parties were in a marriage-like relationship and in her assessment of the value of a portion of his personal injury settlement and some miscellaneous assets. The parties began dating in 2011 when the husband was 48 and the wife was 44. At the time, the husband owned a farm and operated a heavy duty mechanical business. In 2014, the wife sold her home and moved with her children into the husband’s home. In March 2017, the husband sold his farm and, together with the wife, purchased a property in B.C. In July 2017, the parties separated. The trial judge found the parties were in a marriage-like relationship from November 2011 to July 2017. The judge reviewed the parties’ circumstances and was not satisfied that the wife suffered any economic disadvantage or hardship. She was thus not entitled to spousal support as she was able to take advantage of retraining during the relationship and now earned significantly more than she did when the relationship began.

HELD: Appeal and cross-appeal dismissed. While the wife might disagree with the judge’s conclusions regarding the division of family property, there was nothing to suggest the judge misapprehended the evidence. The judge carefully considered the contested evidence that each party presented with respect to the value of the items of family property. There was no reason to interfere with the judge’s decision not to award spousal support. The judge was clearly aware of the appropriate legal framework. The wife could point to no error in the judge’s analysis that would justify appellate intervention. The judge was clearly aware of the applicable law on marriage-like relationships and considered all the relevant evidence in concluding the parties were in a marriage-like relationship. The judge correctly noted that the onus was on the husband to prove excluded property. The judge did not misapprehend the evidence and it was open for her to conclude that the $650,000 personal injury settlement included the husband’s entire claim of $255,120 for past income loss. The judge did not overestimate some of the husband’s miscellaneous assets. The husband could not point to any evidence the judge failed to consider or misapprehended in coming to her conclusion. There was no reason for this court to interfere in the judge’s assessment of the evidence.

Boyd v. Foster, [2020] B.C.J. No. 1013, British Columbia Court of Appeal, G.J. Fitch, G.B. Butler and P. Abrioux JJ.A., June 18, 2020. Digest No. TLD-July202020007