Property division for common-law couples

Common-law couples, also known as adult interdependent partners, do not qualify for the same legislative rights that apply to married couples who are divorcing. However, many common-law couples have demanded for updates to the legislation. Unmarried couples found there were very few rights they could rely on to protect their financial and property interests in the event they decide to end their relationship.

In late 2018, changes to the Alberta's Matrimonial Property Act were passed, and are poised to take affect as of January 1, 2020, according the Government of Alberta website.

A major part of the legislative update to the act includes how common-law couples can protect their property rights following the end of a relationship. The poised changes allow common-law couples who have been living together for more than 3 years the same property division rules that are applied to married couples. These rules would only apply to property acquired after the common-law relationship started.

Another highlight of the legislative updates impact child support payments. Common-law couples can now apply for child support payments for adult children who are 18+. This can impact many circumstances, such as children pursuing post-secondary education, or whether they suffer from an illness or require some form of special care.

Also, another change is the repealing of the Married Women's Act. It was legislation implemented in the 1920s that allowed women greater freedom, but necessarily equal rights to men. It has since been realized this act no longer applies as the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is applicable to both sexes, giving them equal footing when fighting for legal rights.

If you have questions about how changes to family law rules impact common-law couples and families, consult with an experienced family lawyer. He or she will be able to evaluate your situation, identify your legal rights, and assist you with pursuing outcomes that suit your family dynamic.

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