Property Division

Person writing

Property division is not as simple as halving property. Spouses might receive a partial credit for debts, or a partial credit for property that was owned prior to the relationship, inherited, received as a gift, an injury settlement, or some insurance settlements. You might also be entitled to a credit where taxes would be payable when property is withdrawn, which happens with some investments, land, and businesses. Businesses, farms, and pensions typically are not worth the value calculated in their statements, and need to be analyzed thoroughly. Our lawyers can address your right to be credited for these and other adjustments.

BARR LLP’s top Family Law lawyers can help you to protect your property. We have one of Edmonton’s largest family law teams. We have divorce lawyers who have decades of experience handling homes, investments, pensions, rental properties, businesses, farms, tax issues, cabins, boat slips, and many other types of property. Members of our family law team have taught hundreds of other lawyers at seminars, and have taught classes at University of Alberta’s Faculty of Law. The University of Alberta’s Advanced Family Law instructor is a member of our team.

Our firm takes a team approach and shares knowledge, so that our lawyers can benefit from each other’s experience. We have an array of family law lawyers at varying levels of experience and rates, to be able to serve a variety of clientele. We’re also proud to be able to collaborate with our firm’s Corporate/Commercial, Real Estate, Estate, and Civil Litigation lawyers, who provide additional support to address family property division.


Common Law Property Division
As of 2020, separating unmarried couples now have almost identical property rights compared to married couples. We were part of the Alberta Government’s consultations when the new legislation was drafted. When the new law was proclaimed, we taught the new law to hundreds of other lawyers through seminars.

Those who separated before 2020 often also have property rights. Even when a partner is not a joint owner of property, they can file a claim in court for “unjust enrichment”, and may be treated in a similar manner to married couples where they meet the definition of a “joint family venture”.

When you are unmarried, it is critical that you act fast to protect your property rights. A partner seeking a division of property has to file a claim in court within 2 years from when they knew or ought to have known that they became former adult interdependent partners (a 16-part definition; our lawyers can help you determine whether a person is eligible). In some circumstances, the deadline might be up to 3 years or longer.


Separations involving businesses are particularly complex. There are many special rules that apply to business division and income calculation. In most cases, our primarily goal is to ensure that the business can continue to operate unimpeded by the separation and property division, so that it can continue to benefit your family.

BARR LLP has multiple Family Law lawyers whose practices consist primarily of divorces and separations where there are businesses, farms, rental properties, or self-employment. We have an entire practice group of lawyers who handle divorces and separations involving family businesses or farms. Our lawyers have taught other lawyers at dozens of seminars, and have taught law students the law of business and tax issues in Family Law at University of Alberta Faculty of Law courses.


We understand that farming is a very distinct lifestyle. We understand the seasonal demands, unique income tax calculations, the desire to leave the farm to your children, and high financing demands to be able to afford equipment.

One of our Family Law lawyers previously worked at an agricultural law firm and lived on a farm. We can help you try to find ways to divide your property while leaving the farming operation viable, and to be able to properly calculate farming income.

Pre-Nuptial Agreements

Whether you are starting a new relationship, in a relationship, or considering separating, we can help you to enter into a Pre-nuptial Agreement, Cohabitation Agreement, or Post-nuptial Agreement (domestic contracts).

Domestic contracts can help protect you against a nasty separation or estate litigation by agreeing to property division and spousal support terms in advance. Some couples agree that what is yours is yours, and what is mine is mine, but there are many more possible arrangements. Domestic contracts can also protect specific property which you may not want or be financially able to divide upon a separation or death, such as a business or farm. Some spouses agree to waive spousal support or partner support (alimony, maintenance), to help ensure a cleaner break upon separation or death.

Because our firm has Divorce and Family Law lawyers, Wills and Estate lawyers, Real Estate lawyers, and Corporate lawyers, we are able to collaborate to be able to address unique and complex circumstances, including families with businesses or large real estate holdings.

* Please note the foregoing is not an exhaustive list and additional items may arise depending on the nature of your transaction.