Law Reform Commission consultation on family property law
The Law Reform Commission of Nova Scotia has released a Discussion Paper on family property division. The paper proposes a number of reforms to the Matrimonial Property Act and related areas of law. The paper is available online, here.
The goal of the Commission’s proposals is a fair, effective and accessible system for dividing family property at the end of a relationship. The proposals respond to societal changes and the experience of Nova Scotians under the current law, which has not been substantially amended since it was introduced in 1980. Improving access to justice for families experiencing separation and divorce is a key objective.
Among other things, the Commission proposes that common law partners should be entitled to a division of property on the same basis as married spouses, after two years of continuous cohabitation.
The Commission proposes a change to the current law, so that the value of assets and debt acquired by either spouse or partner prior to cohabitation should be presumptively excluded from division. Business assets should be presumptively included.
The proposals also deal with trusts established by a spouse or a third party, pensions, debts, and how to divide property after one spouse has died.
The Commission invites comments on these proposals and the others in the paper. We are pleased to accept written submissions, and Commission staff are available to receive comments by phone or in person. We ask that comments be submitted by August 31, 2016.
The Commission has also published a public survey, for a general audience. It is designed to be user-friendly and accessible to non-lawyers. Members of the Nova Scotia Bar are invited to bring the survey to the attention of their clients and other interested organizations and members of the public. The survey is available here.
The paper and survey are also available from the Commission’s website: www.lawreform.ns.ca. Print copies of the paper are available upon request.