Couples who are married or who are living together and decide to end their relationships have many issues to consider, and one is how to divide what they jointly own. When couples decide to divorce or to separate and they own property, they must discuss the division of property as part of a divorce settlement or separation agreement. In British Columbia the same rules apply to couples who are married and those who have been in a common law union for two or more years.
There are two types of property with which couples must deal -- excluded and family. Family property must be shared equally between the couple unless there is an agreement in place that states otherwise. Family property includes everything the couple shared together or individually on the date they separate. That can include real estate, life insurance policies, RRSPs, pensions and any investments. Excluded property includes anything one person owned before the relationship began, any gifts or inheritance one person received during the relationship or many types of damage awards or insurance claim proceeds.
What couples should know about excluded property, however, is that if its value increased during the course of the marriage or the relationship, the additional equity will need to be divided equally. There are certain instances when property can be divided unequally. That includes when it would be unfair to one party to divide it equally.
A lawyer who is experienced in division of property issues in British Columbia can answer a client's questions regarding the particulars surrounding provincial laws in this regard. A lawyer will review cases individually prior to offering guidance. If there are separations agreements in place, a lawyer may also be able to advise a client based on its contents.