New Family Laws!

When Share and Share Alike Isn’t Fair!

Since March of 2013 family law in BC has undergone some fairly radical changes which impact separating couples, especially with respect to the division of family property.

First and foremost is the fact that common law couples who separate are subject to the same property sharing regime of married couples, namely equal division of family property, with exceptions see below.

Secondly, there are specific provisions which exclude certain property from equal division. These include property acquired before the start of a relationship, or gifts or inheritances received by a spouse. However, while the property remains excluded from division, the other spouse remains entitled to a one half share of any appreciated value of such property.

However, in my experience with family clients, the key challenge in taking advantage of this provision is the absence of evidence, particularly for example calculating the historical value of a home, or investments, owned by one spouse before the start of the relationship. Without such evidence it becomes difficult to determine such values and frustrates attempts to negotiate a fair resolution based upon the law.

So here’s a tip. If you intend to commence living together or get married and you have property, say a home or investments, it makes excellent sense to have a written agreement which identifies the property and confirms the values. Obtaining and retaining copies of any statements or appraisals substantiating such values is also prudent.

If you don’t follow this simple but effective tip you may find that expression “share and share alike” not to your liking, except of course if you’re the spouse on the receiving end!


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