Petition by the wife for a divorce, division of assets and division of pension benefits. The parties were married for 26 years and separated in 1998. They mortgaged their matrimonial home in Newfoundland in order to finance the purchase of new home in Nova Scotia when the wife decided to return there. They separated shortly after the purchase of the Nova Scotia home. They had shared equally in the mortgage payments for the Newfoundland home since the separation. The Nova Scotia home was mortgage free. The Newfoundland home had experienced a substantial reduction in value since the date of separation. The parties had several investment accounts. They each had an RRSP and each belonged to a pension plan. The wife sought an order deferring the division of the pension of the first spouse to retire until the date when the second spouse retired. Both parties were possibly entitled to a public service award for long service. The husband sought reimbursement for a payout he made toward the wife's car loan prior to the separation. The parties had agreed to a 50:50 split of assets and there was no support sought.
- How should the assets be valued?
Petition allowed, divorce granted.
The Matrimonial Property Act does not include a valuation date, so that remains at the discretion of the judge. Campbell holds that the choice of valuation date should be influenced by the following six principles:
- If an asset was acquired after the separation date, it is exempt from matrimonial property under 4(1)(g), absent exceptional circumstances. This exemption of post-separation assets indicates a desire for recognition of assets as of the separation date.
- To be valued, the asset or debt must have existed, or at least have been accrued, as of the separation date. However, if a transaction can be characterized as a plan to rearrange the asset and debt mix as of the separation, that would not exclude their valuation and division.
- When separation date assets or debts no longer exist at trial date and have not been replaced by substituted assets or debts, their separation date value should be accounted for.
- The choice of valuation date should be one by which the spouses would be equally affected by the inevitable post-separation delay in finalizing the division.
- Neither spouse can complain that an earlier division would have allowed a more remunerative outcome because they must both accept the accounting delay and its consequences.
- There must be a recognition that valuation is an imprecise science in the case of many types of assets; the parties should not be encouraged to spend time and money on exact valuations when a reasonably precise/reliable assessment exists.
Applying those principles to the facts at bar, Campbell held that the post-separation decline in value of the Newfoundland home should affect the parties equally, and therefore the date of valuation was to be the date of division of assets. The appropriate date for valuing the mortgage was also the date of division. It was appropriate to reduce the net value of both properties by the amount of the disposition costs, even though there was no immediate intention to sell either property. Similarly, the valuation date for valuing the investments was also the date of the division. A spousal rollover in the amount necessary to equalize their net RRSP values was to be made which would cause the parties to be equally affected by any upturn or downturn in the values of the RRSPs between the date of this decision and the implementation of the rollover. The public service awards were matrimonial assets (the entitlement to those awards having arisen during the marriage), however because of the contingency associated with their receipt, a current quantification of that division was deferred until such time as the funds were received. Since the funds used to pay the car loan and the loan itself were both matrimonial in character, there was no loss to the husband in spending shareable cash to pay off shareable debt.
- Assets which would normally be valued as of the separation date (depreciating assets):
- motor vehicles
- furniture/household contents
- bank accounts
- recreational vehicles
- any asset whose value is consumed by usage
- accrued income tax refunds
- frequent flier/reward points
- Assets which would normally be valued as of the division date (appreciating assets):
- real estate
- mutual funds
- RRSP accounts
- cash value of life insurance
- business assets (if included)