Can assets be held back during a divorce in Alberta?




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The end of a marriage may bring with it uncertainty about the future. Either or both spouses may be wondering what life will look like after the proceedings are finalized, especially where finances are concerned. For any one of a number of reasons, a man or woman going through a divorce may consider holding back assets, especially things that had been held in secret. 

The truth is, however, this is not an acceptable practice in Alberta. All assets (and liabilities, for that matter) must be disclosed during the separation process. Who brought the assets into the marriage is not relevant; all marital assets must be revealed before property division occurs. This includes anything acquired or accumulated without the other spouse’s knowledge, including concealed bank accounts.

An important part of the divorce process is a sworn financial statement that lists all of a person’s assets. Intentionally falsifying this document is little different from lying in court. If the ruse is discovered by the other spouse, the issue can be brought to court for a judge to decide the issue. Typically, the settlement will favour the discoverer, and the one who lied may even be asked to cover the other party’s legal fees.

While poor decisions are not unheard of during a divorce, and hiding assets would be considered a poor decision, it is important to make every effort to be truthful at all times. By being forthright, a person will improve the odds of achieving a satisfactory settlement, whether litigated or negotiated. A dedicated Alberta lawyer can help make that happen.


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