Family law: When a common law partner skips out on the debt

On behalf of Peterson Stark Scott posted in Family Law on June 13, 2019.

When a couple decides that living together is the next step in their relationship, each may want to safeguard their assets since common law unions aren’t governed by the same rules as marriage affords. It is true that there are certain family law rules that speak to common law unions in British Columbia, but if one common law partner wants to leave the other with debt, it might be hard to recoup. It’s not always cut and dried since many factors can come into play.

Having a cohabitation agreement in place may be one way of ensuring individual assets are protected. Such a document can also speak to the debt incurred by the individuals as a couple. Both people in the partnership need to know that both parties are responsible for debts incurred in both names. However, if no domestic partnership contract exists and one person skips out on the debt, creditors need to be informed that the debt belongs to two people.

Creditors don’t care who pays the debt as long as it’s paid. For partners who find themselves in this situation, obtaining legal advice may help them to make wise decisions. Joint accounts should be closed out so an absent partner is halted from racking up further debt.

A British Columbia family law lawyer may be able to help a client whose common law partner has left the other holding all the debt. The client may be able to launch a civil case holding the partner accountable. Laws surrounding common law unions may be confusing and a lawyer might be able to bring some clarification to complex cases.

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