New Property Division Rules for Common-Law Couples in Alberta

The New Family Property Act

The Matrimonial Property Act formally became the Family Property Act on Jan. 1 of 2020.

In addition to a name change, new rules and stipulations are now in place regarding the property rights of unmarried couples.

Formal changes to the law can sometimes be applied in the realm of family law. It is important to be aware of changes to the law if you’re going through the process of divorcing or separating. Updates to the law could impact how you move forward with the division of property.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to Capital City Law to learn about what these new updates could mean for you.

New Changes With the Alberta Family Property Act

The Family Property Act impacts property division for non-married couples in common-law relationships.

The rights given under the new Family Property Act will now apply to common-law couples if they are deemed to be “adult interdependent partners” as defined by the law.

Here is a look at how the law defines two people as being adult interdependent partners:

  • They have lived together in a relationship of interdependence for a minimum of three years;
  • They have a child together as a result of a relationship lasting for less than three years; or
  • They have jointly signed an adult interdependent partner agreement.

What the law is looking for is essentially proof that two people have been operating within an established relationship.

The problem with the Matrimonial Property Act was that no clear, uniform concept was in place for dealing with the separation of common-law partners.

This often meant that couples were forced to navigate their ways through very confusing legal concepts like trusts and unjust enrichment claims.

Although the new Family Property Act is more streamlined, it’s still very important to reach out to a divorce lawyer for legal advice. Capital City Law can help you formulate the best way to move forward when separating in Alberta.

Capital City Law can provide you with a free consultation to learn about your options.

The Goal of the Updated Family Property Act

The updated Family Property Act creates a much clearer path to resolution for people in adult interdependent relationships who wish to separate. It will now generally be easier to follow a path to resolution when separating from a common-law spouse in Alberta.

Here is an outline of the path created by the Family Property Act:

  • Determine what property belongs to one or both parties during the division of property.
  • Determine if any or all property is exempt from distribution
  • Divide remaining property equally based on fairness.

Real or personal property owned by one or both parties is typically eligible for division. This can also extend to properties that a party has an interest or benefit in. Land, buildings, business interests, bank accounts pensions and moveable goods can all qualify as distributable property.

Do You Have Questions About the Alberta Family Property Act?

The updated Alberta Family Property Act provides a path to a separation that is much more similar to the standard divorce process.

A person no longer needs to have the “spouse” designation to enjoy the property rights that had previously only been extended to couples who are legally married. Of course, it will be necessary to prove a valid state of interdependence between two people before the rules associated with adult interdependent couples can come into play.

It’s important to make sure you have legal support and representation if you’re moving forward with a separation or divorce in Alberta.

Reach out to Capital City Law today by booking your free consultation online or calling (780) 462-4321.

concept image of house split down the middle, often an asset divided during a divorce or separation between married and unmarried couples

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