Alberta’s Matrimonial Property Act [MPA] does not specify when matrimonial property should be valued for the purposes of division. In 2005, the Alberta Court of Appeal established that the MPA requires valuation to be done at the date of trial. However, an Alberta case law review conducted by ALRI in 2010 showed that this is problematic. It is an uncertain future date, assumes spouses will actually go to trial, and discourages early settlement. Further, a national review showed that more Canadian provinces value matrimonial property at the date of separation, as opposed to the date of trial. As a result, ALRI examined whether the default valuation date under the MPA should be changed. The report also considers whether the MPA should allow spouses to agree on a valuation date and how to best respond to post-valuation changes in value.
In considering the above issues, ALRI looked at the following factors: promoting reconciliation, reducing cost, facilitating settlement, decreasing delay, the accuracy of the information available to the parties and the appropriate end of the economic partnership. The report concludes that the MPA should expressly provide that spouses may agree on a valuation date. If spouses cannot agree on a valuation date, matrimonial property should be valued at the date of separation.
In certain circumstances, spouses may need to address changes in property that occur after valuation. Flexibility to respond to changes in the value of matrimonial property that happen after valuation but before division can best be achieved by using section 8 of the MPA. However, to reflect separation as the default valuation date, the list of factors in section 8 should be updated to allow consideration of the post-separation changes in the value of matrimonial property and the circumstances of the change.
ALRI published its recommendations in October 2015. Final Report 107 – Matrimonial Property Act: Valuation Date is available on the ALRI website for download.