Property division for common law partners in British Columbia

On behalf of Peterson Stark Scott posted in Property Division on March 26, 2019.

Divorce can be a messy affair. Whether a British Columbia couple is formally married or living a common law lifestyle when the relationship sours and the decision has been made to part ways with property on the line, the issue of property division will rear its head at some point. Family law is very encompassing when it comes to common law spouses and dividing property.

In British Columbia, the rules about the division of family property apply to both married couples and unmarried couples who have been living together in a marriage-like relationship for two or more years. When a couple in the province separates or divorces, each can keep the property that was his or hers before the union, but any increase in the appraised value of the property must be split. Property that was obtained during the marriage or relationship must be split, or one partner can buy the other partner out — and that includes the family or matrimonial home unless a pre-nuptial, post-nuptial or cohabitation agreement exists that stipulates otherwise.

Not only do common law couples share assets in British Columbia, but they also share debts that were accrued during the duration of the relationship. These can include credit card debt if it is in the name of both individuals, car loans, mortgage payments, lines of credit and such. The exception to the rule is that one partner could actually be on the hook for the debt of the other if a purchase was made that was of benefit to both, such as something for the family home or a vacation for both.

For British Columbia residents in common law relationships who are confused as to who gets what in the event of a separation, a lawyer may be able to clarify property division issues. These laws may be confusing to some. A lawyer will look at a client’s individual situation and may be able to offer guidance in each case.

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