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DOMESTIC CONTRACTS AND SEPARATION AGREEMENTS - Types - Prenuptial and marriage contracts

Wednesday, December 27, 2017 @ 8:11 AM  

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Appeal by the wife from an order requiring her to make a $550,000 compensation payment to the husband. The parties entered into a marriage agreement in 1997, 19 years into their marriage, pursuant to which the husband signed his interest in the family home over to the wife to secure her agreement to remain married. The trial judge found that the wife had insisted on the agreement after the husband had assaulted her. Without the agreement, she would have left the marriage. The husband signed the agreement against independent legal advice he obtained. He continued to make mortgage payments on the home subsequent to the agreement, and when the wife re-mortgaged the home to purchase a property from which to operate her medical practice, he made payments on the new mortgage. The judge found that this resulted in an inequitable situation, given the great increase in the value of the family home. Upholding the agreement, the judge ordered the wife to make the compensation payment, noting that this would not result in the husband having a greater share of assets or a better financial position than the wife. No spousal support was ordered, the judge finding that the wife was not disadvantaged by the marriage or its breakdown.

HELD: Appeal dismissed. Ordering a compensation payment was an appropriate way to deal with the inequity that resulted from the significant increase in the value of the family home, not anticipated by either party at the time of the marriage agreement, and the husband’s significant contributions to the home. A basis for spousal support was not established, given that the wife’s standard of living remained equal or superior to the husband’s and that she stood to see her assets appreciate in a way that the husband was unlikely to see.

Dobson v. Dobson, [2017] B.C.J. No. 2331, British Columbia Court of Appeal, M.V. Newbury, S.D. Frankel and J.E.D. Savage JJ.A., November 10, 2017. Digest No. TLD-December252017002