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Understanding division of matrimonial property in Alberta for married spouses

House divided into two pieces, representing property division in Alberta, an area of family law handled by the Edmonton law firm, Sharek & Co, which also handles divorce and legal separation, child custody, child support, emergency protection orders and restraining orders.When two married spouses decide to separate, property division is determined by the Matrimonial Property Act (MPA), which sets out three kinds of property:  Exempt Property, Increase in value of exempt property, Matrimonial Property.

  • Exempt property - any property owned before the marriage, received by way of gift from a third party, property that has been inherited, an award or settlement for tort damages (i.e. if  you were injured in an accident), or proceeds of a non-property insurance policy.
  • Increase in value of exempt property - covers the increase in value of exempt property during the marriage or property acquired with income received from exempt property.
  • Matrimonial property - any property not covered by the other two categories as well as any debt or property acquired by the spouses jointly or separately during the marriage and after separation. 

Typical areas of dispute include what assets and debts are actually held by each spouse and whether matrimonial  property was owned prior to the relationship. 

Property division in Alberta for unmarried couples

There are no laws governing the division of property for unmarried couples.  In general, jointly held assets are divided equally and property purchased during the relationship belongs to the person who can prove ownership.

It's recommended that unmarried couples not cohabitate until they have signed an agreement that sets out how property will be divided if they decide to separate. 

For more information about property division and other legal services offered by Family Law lawyers at Sharek Logan & van Leenen LLP, please visit our Family Law FAQ page or contact us online.  You will quickly discover why any search for the best rated Family Law lawyers in Edmonton is not complete until you have spoken to us.

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Sharek Logan & van Leenen LLP Family Law Legal Team

Matthew Pagels, a lawyer in the Edmonton law firm Sharek & Co, where he handles family law, criminal law and general civil litigation

Matthew Pagels


Kristy Moore, a lawyer in the Edmonton law firm Sharek & Co. where she handles family law, including divorce and separation, spousal support, child custody and support and division of matrimonial property.

Kristy L. Moore


Pauline M. Blais


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