Did you know that until 2020, there was no legislation in Alberta to regulate the division of property between unmarried couples? This means that separating couples had no statutory guidance on how to split their assets, which often resulted in more animosity and lengthier court proceedings. Thankfully, this changed on January 1, 2020. This legislation made significant changes affecting how judges and other decision-makers make orders dividing family property, and helps unmarried couples make agreements dividing property.

The Matrimonial Property Act, the previous law in Alberta, applied only to married couples. Now, the Family Property Act applies 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 did not affect that order or agreement; the rules for dividing property under the current Matrimonial Property Act did not change for you.

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 at 403-229-2365 to set up an appointment to speak with one of our knowledgeable lawyers.

By: Katie Ayer, Barrister and Solicitor with RESOLVE LEGAL GROUP