Alberta’s Family Property Act and Common Law Couples

Alberta’s Family Property Act and Common Law Couples

Alberta’s previous family laws regarding separation and divorce was based on the foundation of an archaic legal doctrine recognizing legal marriages as that of one between a man and a woman. In the past, only men and women who were married to each other were allowed to claim rights and obligations as prescribed in provincial and federal divorce statutes when a relationship breaks down permanently.

Luckily, the legal landscape has evolved with the realization and legalization of same sex marriages and common law relationships. The Alberta Matrimonial Property Act - Bill 28, is a recent upgrade and addition to the Act to include “adult interdependent relationships” as equals to traditional marriages in division of property during a divorce procedure or the dissolution of a relationship. One of the numerous objectives that Bill 28 aims to accomplish – is to provide more guidance on property division and the ability to distribute assets more fairly for adults who are currently in adult interdependent relationships and on January 1st 2020 the Matrimonial Property Act will be renamed the Family Property Act.

Alberta laws use the term “adult interdependent relationships” when a couple live together without marriage for over 3 years. It should however be noted that the term common law is still used in other Alberta jurisdictions such as in federal government processes for claiming income tax credits. There are also guidelines on how child and spousal support work in adult interdependent relationships. For example, Alberta’s Family Property Act allows adult interdependent relationship partners to seek support orders when the relationship breaks down. To know your rights and obligations, please consult an experienced divorce lawyer in Alberta. At Verhaeghe Law Office our divorce lawyers are experienced in handling the dissolution of adult interdependent relationships and will always ensure we put your best interests forward. Contact us today for a consultation and speak directly with a member of our legal team.

When an adult interdependent relationship breaks down the courts will review and assess various factors when the couple lived together. Examples include, whether the couple bought, owns or uses property together, had the partner listed as a beneficiary in a will, had a joint bank account, had a written agreement and many more other things. For this reason, we recommend you hire a divorce lawyer to handle your divorce proceedings who can help ensure full disclosure of all this information is included in your proceedings.

It is also important to note that, the Act also has provisions for minors or blood relatives in adult interdependent relationships under certain conditions. To the contrary there are circumstances when a written agreement of an adult interdependent relationship may not be valid. Having a divorce lawyer to represent you will ensure you have legal guidance on all your rights and options in the event there are written agreements in place or not.

Prior to the amendment of the Matrimonial Property Act – the laws were not very conducive to solving the dissolution of relationships for those who were not considered legally married. The change to the Alberta Matrimonial Property Act has made property division and other matters slightly easier to navigate for adult interdependent partners compared to previously complex processes to determine fair property division. One of the benefits of this statutory amendment is that it may potentially reduce legal fees given there are less complexities to resolve now that there is more guidance for adult interdependent relationships.

The end of any relationship – whether it’s a divorce or separation is never easy on couples or their family. Relationship breakdowns can be very stressful, emotionally charged and financially taxing. All parties can feel the mental and emotional stress during this process. Hiring a divorce lawyer during your divorce proceedings come with many benefits. Primarily, hiring a divorce lawyer can ensure that your best interests and rights are put forward so that you can focus on moving on with your life.

At Verhaeghe Law Office – our divorce lawyers have helped clients across Alberta with their legal needs surrounding separations, divorce, division of assets, child custody and spousal support issues. We recommend you contact our office today for a consultation with one of our divorce lawyers if you are planning on separating or getting a divorce. Call us today at 587-410-2500. We are located in the Mayfield Business Centre in Edmonton, Alberta.

This blog provides only general information on divorce issues within the province of Alberta. This blog is not intended to act as legal advice. If you have a legal question or require legal assistance, please contact one of our family lawyers in Alberta to get advice on your specific circumstances.

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