Calgary Family Lawyers Assisting with Division of Property Following Separation or Divorce
When a couple separates or divorces, any property owned by either spouse during the time they were married must be divided in accordance with provincial law. This is often a flashpoint for former spouses and can cause prolonged and emotional disputes. A family lawyer can guide you through the process of dividing family property and help ensure that the division of property is valid and final, giving you certainty and closure.
HMC Lawyers offers legal advice about division of property issues, helping our clients preserve assets and assert their legal rights. We strive to resolve such disputes efficiently, with a minimum amount of conflict. However, we have considerable litigation experience and are ready to represent our clients in court if we need to go to trial.
Property Division in Alberta: The Family Property Act
In Alberta, the Family Property Act (FPA) sets out the rules for dividing property following a separation or divorce.
The FPA applies to all property acquired during the relationship, including:
- The former family home (including who resides in the home), recreational and vacation properties;
- Household and personal property, including pets;
- Bank accounts and other liquid assets;
- Property that was brought into the relationship for mutual benefit;
- Life and health insurance policies;
- RRSPs and pension plans; and
- Business interests and investments, including stocks and bonds.
The FPA applies to all assets and liabilities acquired during the relationship, whether or not the assets and liabilities are located in the Province of Alberta.
Generally, property is divided equally, unless this would create an unfair result. Certain types of assets are exempt from this division, such as property owned by one spouse before the relationship, or property received by one spouse as an inheritance.
Either spouse may make an application to divide property the family property under the FPA following the separation, however, the longer you wait, the more difficult things can become. Some property rights begin expiring as soon as one year following the separation, if you don’t file a claim. Keep in mind that you and your ex may not agree on the separation date. If you are worried about the division of property, it’s better to get in touch sooner rather than later!
Situations Falling Outside of the Family Property Act
Spouses may also decide, either before the marriage or upon separation, how property will be divided between them. This allows them to “contract out” of the FPA, and have their own wishes supersede the legislation. This is generally done either in a domestic contract (i.e. a prenuptial or cohabitation agreement) or through a separation agreement.
In order for a separation agreement or domestic contract to be relied upon, it must be made in writing, without duress or undue influence on either party, and after both spouses have received independent legal advice. Any matters not addressed in the agreement will be subject to the FPA.
Calgary Family Lawyers Protecting Your Rights
HMC Lawyers are committed to protecting your rights. If you have recently separated from your spouse, or are going through the process of a divorce, speak to one of our family lawyers about division of property issues to ensure that you are properly protected. Call 1-800-480-3534 or contact us online to make an appointment. We represent clients primarily in Calgary and surrounding areas.