What does the new property division legislation mean for Alberta families going through a separation?

 Did you know that there is currently no legislation in Alberta to regulate the division of property between unmarried couples? This means that separating couples have no statutory guidance on how to split their assets, which can result in more animosity and lengthier court proceedings. Thankfully, this is about to change. The Family Statutes Amendment Act, 2018 received Royal Assent on December 11, 2018, and will come into force on January 1, 2020. This legislation will make significant changes affecting how judges and other decision-makers make orders dividing family property, and will help unmarried couples make agreements dividing property.

The Matrimonial Property Act, the current law in Alberta, applies only to married couples. It will become the Family Property Act and will apply to both married couples and to unmarried couples who qualify as adult interdependent partners.

If you already have an order or agreement for the division of property before January 1, 2020, these changes will not affect that order or agreement; the rules for dividing property under the current Matrimonial Property Act will not change for you. All that’s different under the new law is the name of the law and the type of couples to whom the law applies.

Under the Adult Interdependent Relationships Act, adult interdependent partners are people who have lived together in a relationship of some interdependence for three or more years or have made an adult interdependent partnership agreement. As a result, adult interdependent partners are not always romantic partners, and may also include parents and adult children living together in interdependent relationships who have a written interdependent partnership agreement.

In general, adult interdependent partners will have a two-year period in which to bring an action for the division of family property under the new Family Property Act. The two-year period begins when the couple have stopped being adult interdependent partners, which happens when one of the following occurs: (1) the parties sign a written agreement to end their relationship; (2) the parties have not lived together for one year and one or both of them wish to end their relationship; (3) one or both of the parties gets married; (4) one or both parties becomes an adult interdependent partner with a third party; or (5) a Court makes a declaration under the Family Law Act that the parties are unable to reconcile and resume their relationship. If you miss this two-year period, you may not be able to start a court claim for the division of property.

If you need any guidance in navigating the new legislation around the division of family property in Alberta, please contact RESOLVE LEGAL GROUP’s client support coordinator, Deanna, at 403-229-2365 to set up an appointment to speak with one of our knowledgeable lawyers.

By: Senior Family Lawyer and Founder of Resolve Legal Group, Cyndy D. Morin and Katie Ayer, Law Student. To learn more about Cyndy and Resolve Legal Group click https://www.thedivorceangels.com/vendor/cyndy-d-morin/


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