The British Columbia Family Law Act deals with the division of property and debt between married and unmarried spouses. It is presumed that spouses will keep property and debt that they each brought into the relationship and that they will share the property and debt acquired during their relationship.
Family Property – Shared Between the Spouses
What is family property?
Family property refers to debt and assets acquired or owned by either or both spouses during their relationship.
What are some examples of family property that is to be shared between the spouses?
Examples of family property include:
- The family home and other properties owned (i.e. rental properties, vacation properties)
- Bank accounts and financial assets
- Investments such as RRSPs
- Life insurance policies
- Debts including credit cards, loans, and mortgages
The presumption is that all family property, including both assets and debts, will be shared equally between both spouses regardless of whether there was unequal use or contribution by one spouse compared to the other spouse towards that family property. In rare circumstances, a court may divide family property unequally if can be proven that it would be significantly unfair to divide it equally.
Excluded Property – Not Shared Between the Spouses
What is excluded property?
Excluded property refers to any assets or debts one spouse owned before the date of marriage or before the date the spouses began living together, whichever is earlier. Excluded property can also refer to certain types of properties acquired during the relationship such as additional property purchased with the property one spouse brought into the relationship, as well as inheritances, gifts and certain types of insurance proceeds and court awards.
Is excluded property shared between the spouses?
The presumption is that excluded property remains the property of the spouse who owned it before and at the time the relationship started. Any increase in value of excluded property during the relationship, however, will be shared between the spouses
Important Deadlines to Apply to the Court for Property Division
Is there a deadline to divide family property between the spouses?
Family property (assets and debt) division between the spouses must occur within a certain period of time depending on whether the couple is married or unmarried (common law):
- Married couples must apply to the court within 2 years from the date of the divorce
- Unmarried common law couples must apply to the court within 2 years from the date of the separation