You can contact us any time to speak to one of our consultants or lawyers about any of your rights and liabilities upon separation

Most of the same rights and liabilities arising with separation after marriage also arise after ending a common law relationship in Alberta. It is important to speak to a lawyer to fully understand your rights and liabilities prior to separation or as soon as possible thereafter.

Division of Property

As it pertains to the division of property and debt, the Family Law Act in Alberta applies the same to married couples and couples that cohabited in “marriage-like” relationships but were not married.

The property that is subject to division upon the breakdown of a common law relationship includes but is not limited to the following:

    • Real Property (homes and land);
    • Personal Property which in includes
    • Savings, investments, pensions, and most other assets

Excluded Property

  • Property acquired by one party prior to cohabitation or after separation and
  • Gifts and inheritance that were given to one party


If excluded property is mixed with divisible property, this can make it difficult or impossible to determine what portion of the property is divisible. The analysis regarding mixed property is very complicated. Contact us today to understand how to protect your legal standing regarding excluded property.

Unequal Division of Assets

The same factors that are considered to determine whether matrimonial assets should be divided equally or unequally are also weighed to consider whether equal division or unequal division of property is appropriate in common law relationships.

Division of Debts

Any debts that were acquired during a common law relationship are divisible 50/50. Debts include credit card debts, lines of credit, car loans and virtually any other form of debt. If one party has more debts than the other in their name at the end of a common law relationship, they can negotiate through their lawyer to have some debt absorbed by the other party. Contact us today for a free consultation if you have questions regarding division of debts. If you have assets that you seek to protect from dividing with your common law partner, we can provide you with advocacy and advise regarding protecting your assets.

Legal advocacy prior to cohabitation

If you own a home, or any other asset that you wish to protect from being divided with your common-law partner in the case of a separation, you should contact us to hire a lawyer to draft and negotiate a cohabitation agreement between you and your soon to be partner, prior to cohabitation.

Legal advocacy during cohabitation

If you are currently cohabiting and have not had a cohabitation agreement signed, you have less bargaining power than prior to cohabitation. It is easier to get your partner to sign an agreement before they move in. It is important to have a cohabitation agreement signed as soon as possible. If parties are amicable, it is important to have cohabitation agreements signed before the parties become less amicable. Although you have less bargaining power during cohabitation, the shorter the period of cohabitation, the easier the more bargaining power you would have to get your partner sign a cohabitation agreement. If you have been cohabiting for under two years, if you have no children and you are not married, generally your spouse would not be entitled to any equity in a home that is solely in your name. On the other hand, if you have been cohabiting for a long time, your common-law partner would be entitled to any equity that was acquired during cohabitation minus the first two years of cohabitation.

Legal advocacy after a breakup

If you and your common law have broken up and separated and you require a separation agreement rather than a cohabitation agreement. Contact us so that we can explain your rights and liabilities and help you negotiate a separation agreement that you can live with to resolve your division of property related issues and any other issue resulting from the breakdown of your common-law relationship. If you believe you may be entitled to assets that are held in the name of your current or ex common law partner, we can provide you with advice to help you understand your rights and with advocacy to help you protecting your interests and obtaining your equity.

Legal advocacy prior to or during cohabitation

You should not wait until after a breakup or after you have ended your cohabitation with a common-law partner to begin seeking a division of assets. It is important to understand what you are entitled as early as possible. It is also better to negotiate while you and your common-law partner are amicable so that an agreement can me met and costly and time-consuming negotiations or litigation can be avoided if you ever become less amicable.

Legal advocacy after a breakup

As is explained above, if you and your common law have broken up and separated and you require a separation agreement rather than a cohabitation agreement.

Negotiating Cohabitation Agreements

When negotiating the signing of a cohabitation agreement, our lawyers have the same general approach as for separation agreements.