Property Exemptions in Edmonton: Navigating Alberta Divorce

When it comes to divorce in Edmonton, Alberta, the division of property is a critical aspect of the process. Divorcing couples often have questions about what property is exempt from division, as well as what assets may be subject to division. In this article, we’ll delve into the specifics of property exemptions in Edmonton, providing insight into what you can expect during a divorce in this Canadian province.

Understanding Property Division in Alberta

Before we explore property exemptions, it’s essential to have a basic understanding of how property division works in Alberta. Alberta follows the principles of “property equalization” in divorce cases. This means that the value of property acquired during the marriage is generally divided equally between the spouses, regardless of who legally owns the property.

What Is Considered Marital Property?

Marital property typically includes assets and debts acquired during the marriage, with a few exceptions. These assets can encompass:

  1. Family Home: The matrimonial home, where both spouses reside, is typically considered marital property.
  2. Vehicles: Cars, motorcycles, and other vehicles acquired during the marriage are often subject to division.
  3. Savings and Investments: Bank accounts, retirement savings, and investment portfolios accrued during the marriage fall under marital property.
  4. Furniture and Household Items: Furniture, appliances, and other household items acquired during the marriage are included.
  5. Business Interests: If one or both spouses own a business established during the marriage, its value may be divided.

What Property Is Exempt from Division?

Now, let’s address the heart of your question: what property is exempt from division in Edmonton, according to Alberta divorce laws. There are several types of property that are typically considered exempt. These exemptions may vary in different situations, so it’s crucial to consult with a legal professional for personalized advice. Some common exemptions include:

Exempt Property


Inherited Assets

Property inherited by one spouse is generally exempt.


Gifts given to one spouse are typically not divided.

Property Owned Before Marriage

Assets owned before the marriage are often considered separate property.

Certain Court Awards or Settlements

Compensation received for personal injury or other specific cases may be exempt.

Assets Protected by a Prenuptial Agreement

Property outlined as separate in a prenuptial agreement is often exempt from division


It’s important to note that while these categories of property are often exempt from division, there can be exceptions and nuances depending on the specifics of each case. Additionally, any increase in the value of exempt property during the marriage may be subject to division. To ensure a clear understanding of your unique situation, consulting with a family lawyer is highly recommended.

Divorce can be a complex and emotionally charged process. To navigate property division, it’s advisable to seek legal counsel. Experienced family lawyers in Edmonton can provide you with the guidance and support needed to ensure a fair and equitable distribution of assets. They can also help you understand your rights and obligations under Alberta’s divorce laws.

Factors Influencing Property Division

Property division isn’t solely about what’s exempt and what’s not. Several factors can influence the division of marital property. These factors include:

  1. Length of the Marriage: The duration of the marriage may impact the division of assets, with longer marriages often resulting in more equal divisions.
  2. Financial Contributions: Contributions to the acquisition and maintenance of property during the marriage may affect how it’s divided.
  3. Custody of Children: If there are children involved, the custody arrangements can influence property division.
  4. Economic Circumstances: The economic circumstances of each spouse are considered when determining a fair division of property.
  5. Spousal Support: The need for spousal support can also be a factor in property division negotiations.
  6. Tax Implications: The tax consequences of property division may be considered.

Negotiation and Settlement

In many cases, divorcing couples can negotiate the division of property through a separation agreement or mediation. This can be less adversarial and costly than going to court. Here’s a table summarizing some common negotiation methods:

Negotiation Method



A neutral third party helps couples reach an agreement.

Collaborative Law

Each spouse has their lawyer, but they commit to working together to resolve issues.

Separation Agreement

Spouses negotiate directly and formalize the agreement in writing.

What Happens in Court?

If negotiations fail, the matter may be taken to court, and a judge will make the final decisions regarding property division. When this happens, it’s crucial to be prepared for the uncertainty that comes with a court-based approach.

Court Process



Each side presents their case, and a judge makes decisions about property division.


An expert, often an accountant, is appointed to assess the property and make recommendations to the court.


Either party can appeal a court decision if they believe it’s unfair or legally flawed.


In Edmonton, Alberta, the division of property during a divorce can be a complex and emotionally charged process. While there are property exemptions in place, including inherited assets and gifts, many factors can influence how marital property is divided. It’s advisable to consult with a family lawyer to ensure your rights and interests are protected.

Property division can often be resolved through negotiation, mediation, or collaborative law, which can be less adversarial and costly than court proceedings. However, if a resolution cannot be reached through these methods, the matter may proceed to court, where a judge will make the final decisions.

Navigating a divorce is undoubtedly a perplexing and challenging journey, but with the right support and legal guidance, you can navigate it with confidence and ensure that your property is divided fairly and in accordance with Alberta’s divorce laws.

November 8, 2023