Division of Property: Navigating Marital Asset Splits in Canadian Divorce Law and Common Law Couples

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Discover the complexities of property division in divorce through Driessen De Rudder’s comprehensive guide. Learn about the processes, factors, and potential outcomes to better understand your options and make well-informed decisions.

Everything About Property Division in a Relationship Breakdown

When couples end a relationship in Alberta, the division of property can be a complex matter. At Driessen De Rudder Law Office, we understand that navigating the intricacies of property division is critical for ensuring fair outcomes. Property division operates under a framework of legal standards within which family assets are evaluated and distributed between spouses.

In Alberta, family property is subject to equitable division. Depending on the circumstances, this does not always mean a 50/50 split but rather what is fair. The equation used to divide property may include a variety of variables, including asset contributions and length of the relationship, which are considered when determining each party’s fair share.

We help our clients understand their legal rights and provide guidance to ensure that the property division is just. Whether it’s real estate, investments, or business assets, all items are considered part of the complete financial picture.

For more complex scenarios, like family-run farms or businesses involving fractions of ownership and investments, we help simplify the process. Our comprehensive approach ensures that all variables are accounted for.

Feel confident knowing that, at Driessen De Rudder Law Office, our extensive experience in family law is devoted to helping our clients solve challenging legal issues with a blend of logic and compassion.

Understanding Property Division in Divorce

Navigating through a relationship breakdown entails significant considerations, with property division standing out as a crucial aspect. Family property includes:

  • Family Property: Typically comprises assets acquired during the relationship, including family homes, vehicles, and shared bank accounts.
  • Exempt Property: Generally encompasses assets owned before the relationship, inheritances, or gifts.

Family Property is divisible between the partners, while Exempt Property remains the sole property of the party who acquired it. The court will divide any property owned by both parties depending on the circumstances of the property involved.

Typical examples of how assets are categorized are as follows:


Relationship View


Real Estate

Family Home

Pre-relationship House value


Jointly Purchased Car

Pre-relationship Personal Car value

Bank Accounts

Joint Savings

Pre-relationship Individual Savings value


Shared Stocks/Bonds

Pre-relationship Personal stocks value

There are of course exceptions to these considerations.

The division process entails the following steps:

  • Step 1: Identify all assets and liabilities.
  • Step 2: Categorize assets as family property or exempt property.
  • Step 3: Determine the value of family assets.
  • Step 4: Negotiate a fair division, adhering to legal guidelines.

We assure you a results-oriented approach, combining our extensive experience in family law with a deep understanding of estate planning. A comprehensive approach is essential for navigating complex asset divisions, including agricultural interests or company shares.

Our commitment is to guide you through these challenging times with care and understanding. Trust us to manage your legal needs professionally, with a thorough understanding of property division under the law.

Factors Influencing Property Division

When handling property division, multiple factors come into play that we at Driessen De Rudder Law Office meticulously consider. Firstly, jurisdiction plays a crucial role, especially regarding exempt property. In Alberta, distinctions between equitable distribution and matrimonial/family property frameworks influence the proceedings.

Here’s a list of factors influencing property division:

  • Cohabitation and Marriage Length: Longer relationships may call for a more equal split.
  • Contributions to the Relationship: Both financial and non-financial contributions are considered.
  • Economic Misconduct: Wasteful dissipation of assets can affect division.
  • Future Needs: The anticipated future financial circumstances of each party.

Division of property is not just a matter of simple multiplication and division – it’s a comprehensive process striving for a fair settlement. Our knowledge of local issues and extensive legal experience ensures our clients in Barrhead and the surrounding areas receive the guidance necessary for reasonable and just property division.


Common Challenges in Property Division


Dividing family property during a separation can present a multitude of challenges, particularly when it comes to distinguishing between matrimonial/family and exempt assets. In family law, the concept of common law relationship, marriage, and what constitutes family property can vary, often leading to disputes during asset division. Matrimonial/Family property generally includes all assets acquired by either party during the relationship, subject to a few exceptions.

When it comes to dividing complex assets such as the family home, businesses, or retirement accounts, individuals often grapple with accurately assessing and valuing these entities. These assets not only carry significant emotional value but also require careful consideration of tax implications and future value projections.

Negotiations can become intricate when the property division process considers potential earnings or the value of a spouse’s contribution to homemaking.

Preparing for Property Division

When facing the challenge of property division, it’s crucial to approach the process with a clear plan. The division involves a fair allocation of assets, realizing that equitable distribution does not always mean an equal split.

Here are key steps to simplify the task:

  1. Document Everything
  • List all assets, including real estate, income, and personal property.
  • Record valuations for each item.
  • Note down any relevant inheritances or gifts you’ve received, as well as their present status.
  1. Understand Your Estate
  • Determine the full extent of your estate.
  • Identify which items are considered matrimonial/family property versus exempt property.
  1. Legal Consultation
  • Engage with trusted advisors familiar with the issues.
  • Our team has extensive experience assisting with estate planning and ensuring the property division aligns with your legal rights.
  1. The Equation for Fair Division
  • Contributions to the family’s welfare during the relationship and future financial situations are important.
  1. Non-Litigation Approach
  • Our commitment is to attempt to reach an agreement amicable to both parties, avoiding contested divorce/common law scenarios.

At Driessen De Rudder Law Office, we offer a personalized and professional approach to property division. Our understanding of local issues in Barrhead and our connection to our rural community ensures that we provide practical legal solutions that reflect your needs and values.

You ensure a smoother, more efficient process by coming prepared to property division discussions, whether as individuals or businesses. Lean on our seasoned team to guide you through these crucial financial decisions, aiming for an outcome that respects your legal and personal interests.

How Driessen De Rudder Law Office Can Help You

Navigating property division during a relationship breakdown can be intricate and emotionally charged. At Driessen De Rudder Law Office, our adept family lawyers in Barrhead are well-prepared to assist you through the complexities of equitable distribution and net matrimonial/family property calculations, ensuring a fair division of your assets.

Your needs are our priority, and we carefully consider factors such as the duration of the relationship, the unique nature of each asset, and whether it falls under family property or exempt property categories. Trust us to advocate for your interests with skill and sensitivity during this challenging time.

Our approach is to:

  • Assess: We evaluate the nature of your estate and assets to determine the best strategies for division in an uncontested divorce scenario.
  • Strategize: We tailor our approach to the unique aspects of your case in the context of the nuances of our rural community and how they impact your estate and assets.

With our assistance, you can confidently navigate the property settlement process. Our knowledge of family law is informed by decades of combined experience and a deep understanding of Alberta laws.

For personalized legal solutions that reflect your ambitions and safeguard your accomplishments, reach out to Driessen De Rudder Law Office.

Driessen De Rudder
Law Office

5017-50 Avenue, Box 4220,
Barrhead, AB T7N 1A2

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Driessen De Rudder Law Office is a full-service law firm serving Barrhead, Alberta and surrounding towns.