When a couple in Alberta go through a divorce or a separation, the assets that the two have accumulated are in most cases required to be divided equally. This is true even if one person was considered a homemaker while the other was the one who earned income. Property may be exempt from division if it was acquired before the marriage or if there was a written agreement excluding it. Inherited property and gifts from someone other than a spouse may also not be subject to division.
In some cases, a couple that was not married may be treated as a married couple under the law. Whether or not that is true depends on the circumstances of the relationship such as how long the couple was together. Where the case is heard may also depend on whether or not an individual is able to hire a lawyer to handle the case.
If a lawyer is not retained to handle the divorce or separation proceeding, it generally must be heard by the Provincial Court of Alberta. However, this court has limited jurisdiction, which may not include the ability to hear property division cases. In most cases, those who have a lawyer will have the case heard by the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta, as that court has unlimited jurisdiction.
Those who are going through a divorce may wish to discuss their situation with a family law lawyer who can explain the property division process. Such a lawyer may be able to review the facts in the case in order to determine what property is eligible for division and whether a non-married client has any rights to property that was acquired during the course of the relationship.