Big changes are coming to the lives of couples who are unmarried and cohabitating in Alberta. Beginning in January 2020, the current Matrimonial Property Act becomes The Family Property Act. This essentially means that people in a “common-law” relationship or Adult Interdependent Partnerships (“AIP”) will have the same rights to property as married couples.

Currently, couples who are in an AIP have to jump through several legal hoops in order to claim property that was amassed during their time together. Individuals would have to make a claim under the law of trust, which can become very costly for both parties and yield inconsistent results.

Couples are considered to be in an Adult Interdependent Partnership if they fall under any of these criteria: Living together in an interdependent relationship for at least three years, potentially less than three years if they share a child, or if the couple has signed an adult interdependent partner agreement.

Micheline Maes, a Senior Family Mediator in Cochrane says the new Family Property Act will affect married couples as well “ It will affect married couples as well because the time that they live together before marriage may count as well when you start looking at property division”

“For married couples, the Matrimonial Property Act kicked in when they got married and the time before they got married was treated differently. But now it may be included in that so it will really affect them as-well” 

Alberta will be joining Saskatchewan, British Columbia, and Manitoba by providing couples in Adult Interdependent Partnerships with equal property rights as married couples.