News release

Online Survey Now Open on Division of Property

Government is inviting Nova Scotians to share their views on how property is divided at the end of a domestic relationship.

People can share their opinions on the Matrimonial Property Act starting today, Jan. 23, through an online survey https://novascotia.ca/family-property-law-survey/ .

Currently, in Nova Scotia, the law on how family property - such as homes, vehicles, land, money and investments - is divided differs based upon whether a couple is married or common-law.

Government is seeking feedback on whether common-law relationships should be treated the same as married couples and registered domestic partnerships when it comes to dividing property at the end of a relationship. Feedback is also being requested on possible changes affecting rights to possess the family home, as well as the treatment of business assets, property owned before a relationship began, family debt and pensions.

“Relationships and families today look different than they did 40 years ago when these laws were created,” said Attorney General and Minister of Justice Mark Furey. “We know that most common-law partners or non-married couples in long-term relationships do not register as domestic partners. This means that if they separate, it is not clear, under current laws, how they should divide their property. We want to hear from Nova Scotians on whether they feel changes are needed.”

In addition to the online survey, people can also email their opinions to or send by mail to:
Nova Scotia Matrimonial Property Act c/o Narrative Research 5001-7071 Bayers Road Halifax, Nova Scotia B3L 2C2

The deadline to provide feedback is Feb. 20.

Quick Facts:

  • a report on the Division of Family Property, issued by the Law Reform Commission of Nova Scotia, indicates that common law relationships have become increasingly more prominent. The incidence of common law families has grown, from 4.2 per cent in 1981 to 15.7 per cent in 2016
  • in Nova Scotia, you can register a domestic partnership for a fee of $24.95
  • in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories and Nunavut, common-law couples who have lived together for one to three years have the same legal rights as married couples when it comes to dividing family property upon separation
  • in September 2017, Nova Scotia’s Law Reform Commission recommended the creation of a new Family Property Act to replace the Matrimonial Property Act.

Additional Resources:

The Matrimonial Property Act is available here: https://nslegislature.ca/sites/default/files/legc/statutes/matrimon.htm

Information about family property law and other family law issues is available here: https://www.nsfamilylaw.ca/

The final report on the Division of Family Property issued by the Law Reform Commission of Nova Scotia in September 2017 is available here: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5bc6671f0490795182e54b80/t/5c647a129b747a6490eb4ea2/1550088732749/Division+of+Family+Property+-+Final+Report.pdf

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Media Contact:

Barbara MacLean
902-237-3512 Email: