The process of determining who should get what following a separation or divorce can be both challenging and time-consuming. Property division laws can be difficult to navigate, especially if you and your partner have several assets. Fortunately, Valerie M. Little Law Corporation can help you. We specialize in family law, and we offer comprehensive negotiation and mediation services to our clients who need to resolve the division of family property and debt. We will ensure your rights and property are protected. Contact us for more information.
In British Columbia, the Family Law Act governs how property is divided when married couples or common-law spouses separate. These laws focus on ensuring that couples leave the marriage or relationship on relatively equal footing.
However, there are time limits for making a claim to divide the property. If you were married, you must apply to divide property within two years after you get an order for divorce. If you were in a common-law relationship, you must apply within two years from the date you separated.
Are you wondering about the legal specifics regarding how to divide property following a divorce or a separation? If so, the first thing you should know is there are two categories of property that can be divided: family property and excluded property. Here’s an overview.
Family property is everything you or your partner owned separately or together on the date you separate. When partners separate, all family property will be divided 50/50, unless the couple has an agreement that states otherwise or the Judge orders otherwise.
Some examples of the family property include the family home, vehicles, RRSPs, investments, bank accounts, insurance policies, pensions and businesses. Property that is registered in the name of only one spouse may still qualify as family property and may still be equally divided.
Divorced and separated couples must also divide the accrued family debt. This includes all financial obligations acquired by either partner during the relationship, including mortgages, loans, lines of credit, credit card debt and income tax. Both spouses are typically equally responsible for paying off family debt even if the debt is only in the name of one spouse.
Excluded property, on the other hand, doesn’t have to be split 50/50 and includes assets you or your spouse owned before you lived together. This could be property one spouse possessed before the relationship started or gifts and inheritances given during the relationship.
However, if the value of any excluded property increased during the relationship, that increase in value is considered family property and must be divided equally. For example, if you owned a house with a net worth of $900,000 before your spouse moved in, and it has a net value of $1.2 million when you separate, the original $900,000 value of the home is yours alone. You and your spouse will equally divide the $300,000 in increased equity.
In a divorce or separation, the court will only order family assets or debts to be divided unequally if it would be “significantly unfair” to one spouse to divide them proportionately. The court takes into consideration a number of factors when deciding how to divide property, including:
The length of the marriage or relationship.
Any pre-existing terms and pre-nuptial agreements.
The ability of each spouse to pay their share of the debt.
A spouse’s contribution to the career of the other partner.
Actions taken to increase or decrease the value of the family property or debt after the separation.
Additionally, spouses can expressly choose to divide their property or debt unequally by making a property division agreement. If this is something you and your spouse are interested in doing, the team at Valerie M. Little Law Corporation can help you understand your legal rights and responsibilities before finalizing an agreement.
Dealing with the various legal aspects of a divorce or separation can be stressful. Fortunately, the team at Valerie M. Little Law Corporation can make the process easier by providing invaluable information, advice and support to assist you. We have helped countless clients with property division and related legal issues following the termination of their relationship.
Valerie M. Little Law Corporation is centrally located in New Westminster and serves all of Burnaby, Maple Ridge, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Vancouver, North Vancouver, West Vancouver, Port Moody, Richmond, Surrey, Cloverdale, Delta, Langley, Squamish and Whistler. To schedule your confidential appointment, call 604-526-3333 or email us.