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Real Estate Agents & Divorce: Timing Is Everything

By | - March 26, 2018

Steve Benmor is a recognized divorce lawyer, family mediator, arbitrator, speaker, writer and educator. Mr. Benmor has worked as lead counsel in many divorce trials, held many leadership positions in the legal community and has been regularly interviewed on television, radio and in newspapers as an expert in Family Law.

There is never a good time to divorce. But if you are a real estate agent coming off a very good year of sales, now is definitely not a good time to end your marriage. That is because income determines support and the real estate commissions you earned have to be shared with your ex.  

Recent Income Could Be More Than Just The Previous Year

You see that Ontario Family Law presupposes that your ex should be able to live the same lifestyle s/he had before separation and that is usually measured by your most recent income. Recent income is usually considered the income in the year of separation, but sometimes can be the average of the last three years of marriage.  Spousal support is usually determined at a moment in time, the year of separation.  So if that year was a good year, resulting in a high income level, the amount of spousal support payable could reflect that high level of income, and a multi-year settlement could be based on that high income.  

Plus, You’re More Than Just A Real Estate Agent…

Separate and apart from income and spousal support is the issue of property division. Most real estate agents don’t realize that they are considered a business, and that a business has value. Under Ontario Family Law,  the value of the business is treated the same as any other property that needs to be equalized (shared) with your ex.  Some would argue that personal service businesses like a real estate agency would have no value without the real estate agent. Others would argue that the good reputation that was established during the course of the marriage (aka goodwill) has significant value.  This is particularly the case for real estate agents that have established a strong reputation and therefore a historical flow of new clients for all members of the realtor’s team.  If indeed it is found the business has value, that value needs to be ascertained – usually by a business valuator so that the value is shared with your ex.  

So if you are a real estate agent going through a divorce, make sure that you get sound legal advice on your rights and responsibilities.

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