The Alberta Matrimonial Property Act (MPA) sets out specific guidelines with regard to the division of property of a legally married husband and wife whose marraige has broken down and who cannot agree on the division of their assets. The Alberta Matrimonial Property Act does not apply to common law relationships.
Matrimonial Property includes items such as:
- The matrimonial home
- Household goods
- RRSPs and employment pensions
- Business interests
- Investments, stocks, bonds
- Property used fo rmutual benefit of the spouses
- Property purchased during the marraige
- Property brought into the matrimonial relationship
Matrimonial Property does not include:
- Property acquired by one spouse before the marraige
- Awards or settlements that are designated for one spouse, such as money paid for pain and suffering in an auto accident.
There are many intracacies and exceptions regarding matrimonial property that you will need to know when you’re dividing your property. Having a divorce lawyer is incredibly helpful when trying to determine the division of matrimonial property.
What if I am Not a Listed Owner of Our Home?
Under the Matrimonial Property Act, spouses are entitled to divide (either equally or equitably depending on the type of property and the circumstances of the parties) all of the assets of their spouse, whether the assets are held jointly by the parties, solely by the spouse or even jointly by the spouse and third parties (as to the spouses share of such jointly held assets). That means that you do not need to be listed as a owner of your home to be entitled to a portion if it’s value.
Am I Responsible for My Spouse’s Debt?
In most cases, the debt accumulated during your marraige will be divided equally. However, in certain circumstances where you can show that debt was accumulated outside of the normal course during your marraige, the courts can award the spouse an unequal division of the balance of matrimonial debt. It is strongly recommended that you consult with a divorce lawyer if you believe that your assets and debts should not be divided evenly.
What if I am Unaware of My Spouse’s Assets?
When you start your division of marital property, one of the first steps for both parties is to disclose incomes, assets and debts. If this information is not disclosed voluntarily, you can apply to the Court of Queen’s Bench with a Notice to Disclose Application which requires the Respondent to provide a list of records in less than 30 days.