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Property Division – What You Keep And What You Split

In a previous post, we talked about how family debt is divided between married and common law couples who decide to separate – basically a 50/50 split unless the couple stipulates a different arrangement in a separation agreement. In this week’s post, we look at how the law in B.C. treats the division of family property.

Same Rules For Married And Common Law Couples

As with family debt, the law treats the division of family property the same for married couples as for common law couples – so long as the common law couple has lived in a marriage-like relationship for at least two years.

Property Acquired While Cohabiting

For anything that a couple acquired while living together, the law says that such property is to be split equally. Even if one party acquired it and has formal ownership, the other party is entitled to an equal share if it was acquired while the couple cohabited.

Property Preceding The Relationship

The law allows each party to keep property that he or she had prior to the relationship. However, both parties are entitled to an equal share in any increased value in such property. This rule on increased value applies to such family property as a house, land, furniture, vehicles, pensions, bank accounts and businesses.

For example, the owner of a house acquired before the relation is entitled to keep the house after a separation. But if the home has increased in value by 20% over the life of the relationship, both spouses equally split the value of that 20% increase.

Excluded Property

Although some exceptions exist to the 50/50 rule – such as gifts and inheritances directed at one spouse – the same rule on splitting the increased value accrued over the life of the relationship applies.

Navigating property division can be complex. The lawyers at Peterson Stark Scott can provide reliable, up-to-date and protective legal advice to safeguard the interests of separating parties.

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