A central issue in most divorce proceedings is the division of family assets which is governed by the Matrimonial Property Act. Unmarried couples do not have a right to equalization of property acquired during the relationship. However, they can seek a constructive trust in one or more of the assets of their former partner if they can show they contributed to their former partner’s acquisition of the asset(s) during the common law relationship.
A common misconception is that a wife gets “half” of her husband’s assets in a divorce. The court in fact examines each spouse’s increase in net worth (assets minus debts) and equalizes the difference. An equal division of property is presumed and a spouse seeking more needs to show the other spouse improvidently depleted assets. Specifics such as what assets are subject to division and the value assigned to them are determined in court.
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