Joint Family Venture Claims

The Supreme Court of Canada in its recent decision in Kerr v. Baranow, provided a new framework for looking at how family wealth should be divided when spouses or families engage in what it termed a “joint family venture”. For example, Kerr suggests that when the efforts of two spouses or partners result in the accumulation of wealth, the partners should be entitled to a proportionate share of that wealth on the breakdown of the relationship. It would not be fair, reasoned the court, to simply pay one partner as though he or she was simply hired help. In a claim for a fair share of family wealth based on the principles in Kerr v. Baranow, a court will consider the intent of the parties, the degree of economic integration between or among the parties, the extent of mutual effort, and the contributions of one party to home-making and child rearing that, in turn, made the other partner’s business success possible.