When a relationship ends the parties need an agreement with respect to how to divide property, assets, investments, equity in real estate, pensions and vehicles as well as liabilities and debts between the parties. The Divorce Act is federal legislation and the Divorce Act governs divorces, custody, parenting and support, however, it does not govern property. Property issues are governed by provincial legislation.
In Alberta, it is called the Matrimonial Property Act. Each party requires their own lawyer to give them independent legal advice and to sign the Agreement. The lawyer’s advice is necessary for the Agreement to be final and binding and to minimize either party’s ability to come back and challenge the Agreement later. It is recommended to obtain the advice of a lawyer in all circumstances, even if your separation was amicable and you have agreed how to divide the property and debts. If you do not put your property division in a written, binding Agreement executed with lawyers, either you or your spouse may come back years later and claim it was an unfair Agreement. It is very important for your future peace of mind to have the property division done correctly and binding, so that both you and your former spouse can move forward with certainty.
Common-law / Adult Interdependent Relationships: It is important to note that rights to property exist even if the couple were not married, although property rights between unmarried couples are governed by a different set of rules and are not covered under the Matrimonial Property Act. How the property is to be divided and in what percentages depends upon the specific circumstances of each case. Each province also has a different set of rules and laws that are applied in common-law property division. In Alberta, in a common-law relationship, the courts look at a number of different factors to determine who should have a share of what property and debts and what percentage should each party received.
If you have any questions about the division of property, assets, debts, liabilities arising from your marriage / relationship, please contact us to discuss.
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