On November 14, 2011, the Provincial government introduced Bill 16, which features a comprehensive revamping of the property law regime in the province. One significant change is that Property Division, which did not previously apply to “common law” spouses under part 5 of the old Family Relations Act, will now apply “common law” spouses.
The bill has not yet been passed, and of course there may be amendments or it may not pass at all. However, now is the time to take a serious look at your situation if you are in a “common law” relationship.
Of particular relevance to those in “common law” relationships is the proposed transitional section 252 of Bill 16. Section 252 provides that if you have an executed agreement regarding property, or if you have started a court proceeding regarding property division, before the act comes into effect, then the old Family Relations Act will apply to your case. If you are in a common law spouse with the lion’s share of the property and considering separating, get to a lawyer to discuss your options as soon as possible. Delaying could be very costly.