Property Division For Common-Law Partners

When it comes to property division during a separation and divorce, matters are rarely black and white. For couples in a common-law relationship, things can become even more complicated.


A New Approach To Common-Law Separation

Historically, the rules regarding property division and common-law relationships in British Columbia have been complicated at best. Before the Family Law Act, unmarried partners were not permitted to apply to court to handle property division matters under family law property division rules. The result? Long, complex, and expensive cases that often led to unsatisfactory, unfair outcomes.

Since the Family Law Act, frameworks regarding separation and divorce have changed to reflect the way that BC families continue to evolve. With the number of common-law families outpacing the number of families with married couples, it only makes sense that a system that reflects this be put into place.

The Rules Regarding Property Division

For common-law couples who end their relationship, the rules regarding property division have become more straightforward. Common-law spouses who have been living together in a marriage-like relationship for two years or more are entitled to:

  • Half of the property acquired throughout the relationship including, but not limited to, real estate, vehicles, and bank accounts
  • A shared portion of any family property value increase that occurred during the relationship
  • The division of family debts taken on during the relationship, regardless of who’s name they fall under

Unlike married couples, common-law spouses are not necessarily required to divide property that was owned individually prior to the start of the relationship.

Getting The Right Help

Even with the Family Law Act, navigating a common-law separation can be stressful and confusing. Regardless of what leads a couple to end their partnership, the impact of decisions made throughout the separation process have the potential to have long-lasting consequences. Working with a skilled family lawyer helps take the guesswork out of dividing property during a common-law separation and can lead to an outcome that best benefits all partied involved.

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