We’re not married. What happens to our property and debts if we separate?

Decide how to deal with jointly owned property and debts

You and your partner can make a list of all your jointly owned property, sometimes called , and all your joint .

Dividing joint assets

Assets, sometimes called property, include your:

  • home and any other real estate
  • car
  • personal items of value such as jewellery or artwork
  • household items such as furniture, appliances, and electronic equipment
  • bank accounts, RRSPs, and any other financial investments
  • insurance policies
  • pensions
  • businesses

You might be the only owner of some assets. For example, you own all the money in a bank account that is only in your name. And you own a car that is registered in only your name.

You might be a joint owner of other assets. For example, you only own half of the money in a joint bank account that is in you and your partner’s names. Your partner owns the other half. If you own a home jointly, you might own half or you might own a different proportion of the home. It depends on what title to your home says.

Some things are easier to divide than others. A bank account can easily be divided by each of you taking half the amount.

Many couples agree on how to divide things in their home.. For example, you could make a list of things and take turns picking what you want to take with you. This may include things like couches, lamps, and televisions.

Other property is more complicated. For example, you and your partner have to decide if one of you wants to buy the other person’s share of your home, or if it should be listed for sale. If one of you buys out the other person’s share, you have to decide how much to pay.

Dividing pension credits

The Canada Pension Plan (CPP) is a type of pension that most workers and employers contribute to. You earn CPP credits as you work. When you retire or can’t work because of a disability, you can apply to get pension payments.

You or your partner can apply directly to Service Canada to divide CPP contributions that were made during the time both of you lived together. You must have lived with your partner for at least one year to apply.

You don’t have any special rights to divide other types of pensions, for example, an employer’s pension. But there are also special rules about how to divide a pension if you and your common-law partner agree or you have a to divide the pension.

Dividing joint debts

Debts include your:

  • unpaid bills, including credit card bills
  • student loans
  • lines of credit
  • loans
  • mortgage

If you have a joint debt, you may have to repay the entire joint debt if your partner doesn’t pay their share. You and your partner should try to make a separation agreement about how to divide joint debts.

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