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Do you know a woman who is being abused? A legal rights handbook

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How do we divide our property?

Couples who are legally married have a right to a share in the value of their property if they separate or divorce. Property includes money, assets, cars, RRSPs, pensions, or anything else that can be exchanged for money. Debts like lines of credit, loans, or credit cards are also considered when a married couple separates or divorces.

You should talk to a lawyer. They will help you make sure you apply for your share of the family property within the time limit. They will also help you figure out what you should receive.

Common-law partners do not automatically have a right to share family property. Sometimes a common-law partner can be given some property if they can show that the other person has been unjustly enriched by the relationship.

Unjustly enriched: a legal claim where one partner tries to show that it would be unfair to allow the other partner to leave the relationship without sharing their property. This can be very hard to prove.

An example of this is if a partner is not named as an owner of the home but made regular mortgage payments and paid for home renovations. Another example is if a person worked for free in their partner's business, or did all the child care or housework so that their partner could build their business.

If you lived common-law and you are a registered part-owner of the family home, you do not lose your right to ownership when you leave. See a family lawyer as soon as possible to find out how to protect your interest in the home.

For more information, see the CLEO resource Separation and Divorce or Death of a Spouse: Property Division.