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  • Sea to Sky Law

Family Separation

The emotion in family separation is usually related to two major subjects - children and money. This post is about the division of assets. See my other posts about support and parenting rights.

By the 2013 Family Law Act, British Columbia enacted a law that applies the same to both married and common law couples, of any sex. Before 2013 any couple not legally married had to make a trust claim to obtain a fair share of the family assets.

Now the starting point is an equal share of both the assets and debts the family acquired during the relationship.

What each spouse brought to the relationship, debts as well as assets, that spouse keeps. So if one spouse owned a home when the spouses met then that spouse keeps the equity and debt existing at the start of the relationship before dividing the increased value which occurs during the relationship. For example, if the home is worth $200,000 when the spouses met is now worth $500,000 then the spouses divide the $300,000 difference less the related debt.

The spouses also share any new assets and debt acquired during the relationship as well as share the increase in value, and debt, on assets acquired during the relationship.

Assets can include real property like homes and personal property such as businesses, cars and household items and bank accounts, investments, pensions and RRSPs. Debt includes tax arrears.

There can still be a claim for an unequal share, or to exclude.

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