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Family law: Separated Alberta couple duke it out over debts

If a couple divorces and they have taken care of splitting their assets and their debts, one would think that is the end of the story. Not always, apparently, as one former Alberta couple found out recently. Rules in these cases fall under the family law umbrella in the province. The couple in question was pretty financially successful during the marriage, but the businesses they owned had to be liquidated after they separated, causing a battle on how to split the proceeds.

Apparently, the couple let these important issues slide -- including coming to a decision as to resolve the financial aspect of their split. After six years of being apart, the man racked up more than $115,000 in debt via credit cards and a line of credit, while the woman had less than $1,500 of debt on her credit card. The man suggested his former wife should be responsible for half of his debts, and of course, she didn't agree.

To make a long story short, the judge agreed with the man and ordered his former wife to pay him more than $421,000. That included paying half a what the husband accumulated in debt after the couple separated, but the woman appealed the decision and won.  The appeals court judge ruled that the onus is on the person incurring the debt after a couple separates and pointed out that a couple should be timely about dividing assets and liabilities. 

A client who is divorcing or separating may find it helpful to speak with a lawyer experienced in Alberta family law. A lawyer may be able to guide a client in these kinds of situations. Having legal advice may be wise to avoid costly court battles and appeal court costs in the long run. 

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