Property Division - Matrimonial
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.
Property Division - Common Law
In Alberta there is no legislation that dictates how property should be divided after a common law, or an adult interdependent relationship ends. The principles of property division after a common law relationship have been developed by the courts over a number of years. There are several factors that the courts consider in determining the nature of the relationship. Next, the courts look at the unique circumstances of the relationship and of each item of property and each debt to decide if, and how, it should be shared.
There are as many ways to divide property as they are couples wishing to do so. Your rights and obligations is a very good starting place for determining how you want to divide property. However, each property settlement can be as unique as your circumstances. It does not necessarily mean taking each item and splitting it in half. Even when the basic principles of the common-law are adhered to, I can show you different ways for you achieve the same result, and ways that may be easier to implement, or ways that may protect your interests better.
If you have any questions about the division of property, assets, debts, liabilities arising from your marriage / relationship, please contact us to discuss.