A recent decision from the British Columbia Court of Appeal, Pasch v. Blackmore, addressed the issue of contributions from parents of a spouse to the purchase and renovation of a matrimonial home. The Court of Appeal concluded that it was not justified to divide the spouse’s interest in the home substantially in favour of the wife. In this case, the parties began living together in 1999. The wife arranged for her parents to finance the purchase of a home, title to which she took in her name only. Renovations to the home were also financed by the wife’s parents. The parents registered a no-interest mortgage against the property for over $300,000, representing the full purchase price and closing costs. The loan of over $20,000 for renovations was unsecured and interest-free. The parties moved into the home in April 2004. They married in 2005 and divorced in 2009. By the time of trial, the property had increased in value, resulting in equity of approximately $200,000. The judge reapportioned the division of the home in favour of the wife because the home could not have been acquired but for the generosity of the wife’s parents.
On appeal, the trial decision was overturned and the husband was granted 50% equity in the home. The trial judge erred in reapportioning the home’s value. The generosity of the wife’s parents did not result in an equal division of property being unfair. The wife’s contributions to the property were no less than the husband’s. The windfall to be divided resulted not from any contribution from the wife, but from the favourable housing market.