Bruyer & Mackay’s expert counsel helps demystify the process of dividing assets while ensuring transparency and cooperation from all parties and full compliance with the law.

In Alberta the law regarding division of assets for separated spouses has recently changed. Now, both unmarried and married spouses have the opportunity to claim a division of family property.

Legal advice regarding your specific situation should be sought to discuss:

  • Whether some of your property is not divisible. The Family Property Act lists types of assets, called exemptions, that one spouse may be able to keep to themselves. These include: the value of property acquired before the marriage, gifts, inheritances, and certain types of insurance or court-related awards.
  • How to value your assets. The general rule is that you value the assets on a fair market value basis, as of the date of trial or settlement.
  • Whether there is a possibility of dividing your assets unequally. 

The Family Property Act allows spouses to come to whatever agreement they want; however, for the agreement to be binding each spouse must understand it. The Supreme Court of Canada and the Family Property Act have both tackled the issues of formalities required for a binding agreement. These formalities include that:

  • There is financial disclosure between the spouses (i.e.: each spouse gets to see all the documentation regarding the other person’s assets and debts).
  • The agreement is in writing.
  • Both spouses sign formal acknowledgements, and that each spouse receives legal advice separate and apart from the other spouse and from a different, independent lawyer.

As the law has recently changed with respect to family property, it is a good idea to obtain legal advice (particularly if you were common-law spouses) on whether you have a claim to division of family property.