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Family Property

In Manitoba, The Family Property Act sets out the rules for dividing the value of family property between spouses or common-law partners. In general, family property is any property that either or both spouses have acquired while married and living together, or that either or both common-law partners have acquired while they have lived together (cohabitated). If a couple cohabits for a time immediately before their marriage, the property they acquire during cohabitation is also family property. The basic rule is that both spouses or common-law partners have a right to an equal share in the value of family property when they separate, no matter which one owns the property or where it is located.

The law recognizes that, whether a spouse or common-law partner is responsible for running the household or for earning the family income, the contribution to the relationship is of equal importance and should be given equal weight in dividing family property between the parties.

What if I’m married?

The Family Property Act applies to all married persons (spouses) living in Manitoba, no matter where they were married or how long they have been married. It does not apply to spouses who were living separate and apart before May 6, 1977 and have not lived together for more than 90 days since then. If one or both spouses no longer live in Manitoba, the Act will apply only if Manitoba was the last place they lived together.

What if I’m not legally married?

Before June 30, 2004, Manitoba’s family laws dealing with property did not apply to people who were living together, but not legally married. These laws only applied to married spouses.

On June 30, 2004, The Family Property Act and many other property laws, such as The Homesteads Act, began to apply to common-law partners who have either registered their relationship with the Vital Statistics Agency or who have lived together for a specified period of time. Further information about these changes to the property sharing laws, visit the Common Law Partners and Property section of this website.

For unmarried partners who permanently separated before June 30, 2004, or for common-law partners who have neither registered their relationship with the Vital Statistics Agency, nor lived together for at least three years, the remedies and protection respecting property under that legislation does not apply to them. These partners have no right to any property solely owned by the other partner, unless the partner can prove to the court that they contributed to acquiring, improving or maintaining the property and should be compensated for that contribution. Unmarried partners, like legal spouses, have equal rights to property that they jointly own.