A breakup can be complicated, both emotionally and practically. Couples often express their bond with each other by accumulating things as partners, such as a home, vehicles, jewelry or other valuables. British Columbia laws for division of property are not limited to married couples. If two people have lived together as if they were married for two years or longer, the laws for asset division may apply. Therefore, it is important for all couples going through a breakup to understand their rights and what they might expect from the legal process.
If a couple separates, they must determine which of their property is family property that is jointly owned and which is excluded property to which only one spouse can claim ownership. Excluded property may include anything a partner owned before they got married or began their cohabitation. Items like inheritances, individual gifts and damage awards or insurance payouts, such as from an accident injury, are typically excluded.
Any items the couple accumulated while together are subject to property division when the couple separates. Absent a contract between the couple, the courts in British Columbia generally agree to an equal division of family property. This may include any appreciation of a home or business that is otherwise excluded.
Dividing family property equally can be challenging, and it may also be unfair. A partner who will experience a significant hardship after divorce may want to fight for a larger share of the family assets during division of property. Matters of valuation and ownership can also complicate the process. It is wise for each partner to have a skilled and experienced lawyer advocate for them.