There are big changes coming to property owned by unmarried couples on January 1, 2020.

Currently Alberta does not have written laws that specify how property will be divided on separation if it is owned by unmarried couples. For that reason, we have had to turn to principles of equity to figure out how dividing that property might work. We have had to rely on Judges to make determinations on essentially a case by case basis based on those equitable principles. As a result there is often uncertainty about how property should be divided in the event unmarried couples separate.

This is changing. The Alberta Government recently passed legislation that imports the laws for dividing married couples’ property to adult interdependent partners (“AIPs”). This may result in surprising and unintended consequences for people who cohabitate and share some of their assets and/or liabilities. For example, did you know you do not have to be in a romantic relationship to become adult interdependent partners? Did you know that if you meet the criteria to be AIPs, you will have to share all property, including assets and debts acquired during the interdependent relationship, regardless of who purchased the asset or acquired the debt?

The only way to be sure that your property will be handled in exactly the way in which you intend is to enter into a binding Agreement with legal advice. The Agreement itself is an investment in protecting your property and defining your expectations. We invite you to contact our office to discuss how you may best protect your property if you think this new act might apply to you.