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Legal Briefs

Legal Briefs, Issue #2

March 2019

by Jonathan Healey

New Legislation to be introduced for common-law partners

Questions about Matrimonial Property answered by Jonathan Healey. There is mistaken assumption by parties involved in a common-law relationship that upon a separation they will be treated in the same way as parties who are married.

However, there is a difference between a property division in a break up of a common law relationship and a separation when the parties are married.

Under the Matrimonial Property Act, which applies to persons who are married, there is a presumption of a 50/50 split of assets which have been accumulated during the marriage. This is not the case in a common-law separation, where the Matrimonial Property Act obviously does not apply as the parties are not married. Instead, upon a common-law break up, each party must provide evidence to prove their entitlement to a division of these assets, which the parties have accumulated during their common-law relationship. This often leads to expensive litigation for the parties involved in having to provide their entitlement to a share in the parties’ assets.

A new Bill put forward by the Provincial Government, known as Bill 28, which will become the Family Property Act, will finally tackle this problem by specifically addressing how property is to be divided when common-law partners split up. Hopefully this will now remove the uncertainty and should result in making it easier for common-law partners to reach property settlement should their relationship end.

Professional Qualifications

  • Admitted to the Alberta Bar in 1990
  • Bachelor of Laws (Hons) University of Liverpool, 1988
  • Bachelor of Arts (Special) University of Alberta, 1985
  • Founder of Healey Law Firm.
  • Practiced in the area of Family Law, Wills, Real Estate and Personal Injury for over 23 years in Edmonton.
  • Represented individuals in both the Court of Queen’s Bench and the Provincial Courts of Alberta and also in the Alberta Court of Appeal with regard to their legal matters.
  • Participated in mediated resolutions of family law and personal injury issues before the Court of Queen's Bench.
  • Member of the Edmonton Bar Association.
  • Actively involved in the sports community in Edmonton having played both soccer and cricket for a number of years.
  • Sat as panel member with regards to disciplinary issues for the Edmonton and District Soccer Association.

What takes precedence under Alberta Law -- Family Law or the terms of a Prenuptial Agreement?
The term of a Prenuptial Agreement is the whole purpose of a Pre-nuptial Agreement is to make certain elements of Family Law not applicable.

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