Property division: Understanding what's included

Separating or divorcing means a couple still has to take care of a lot of business. One of the issues about which decisions need to be made is property division. That hasn't been easy for many British Columbia couples in light of the volatile real estate market and escalating property values, but there are distinct rules in place governed by the Family Law Act. For example, family property is any property owned by both spouses on the date of separation no matter in whose name the property is registered and that means that property must be divided equally among the individuals.

Excluded property -- not considered to be family property -- is owned by one spouse before the relationship began. With this type of property, the increase of that property value is what is considered for division upon the trial date or on the date the spouses agree on a settlement -- not on the date of separation. Many couples don't realize this and the effect it may have on property division since it could take months to settle and to wait for a trial date.

This division of the amount the property has increased is applicable even when one partner moves out of an excluded property. Relying on a verbal agreement with a former spouse may not be prudent. Seeking the advice of a lawyer in this regard may act as a safeguard measure.

Property division in British Columbia can be a dicey issue. To try to minimize complications, seeking the advice of a lawyer may be the best route. Each person should have a firm grasp of his or her rights when a marriage or common law union ends. A lawyer may be able to shed light on those rights -- including those having to do with property. 

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