The Alberta Law Reform Institute recommends changes to the law for how common-law couples divide property if their relationship breaks down. This Report also recommends changes to the law for married couples who lived together before marriage and for adult interdependent partners who are not common law couples.
Why is Law Reform Needed? 2016 Census data indicates that 320,260 Albertans consider themselves to be in common-law relationships. If common-law couples break up and cannot agree how to divide their property, they need to rely on complex judge-made law to divide their property. ALRI considers that the law of unjust enrichment is overly complicated, costly to litigate, and unpredictable. Legislated rules would better guide parties to make their own agreements and settle disputes. Couples who lived together before marriage and adult interdependent partners may also need to rely on judge-made law for property division and would also benefit from a clearer legislated framework for property division.