The Financial Fallout of Common Law Relationships in B.C.

February 21, 2019

Ending a relationship is rarely easy, but ending a relationship as a common law couple can be a bit more difficult due to the province’s laws on the matter. Here is an overview of the current legal landscape in B.C.

What Constitutes a Common Law Relationship?

In B.C., any couple that lives together in a “marriage-like” relationship for longer than two years is considered to be common law. Couples that have lived together for less than two years but have a child together are also included under this umbrella. Because of this, unmarried partners can still end up with many of the same rights and obligations as married couples regarding their joint and individual assets.

How Are Assets Divided?

In regard to property, each partner has an equal claim to most property that was acquired during the relationship. This means that, whether it was purchased separately or together, each person is legally entitled to half of it, unless it falls into one of the exceptions below or there is a written agreement or other evidence to the contrary.

Exceptions to this rule may include the following:

- Inheritances

- Gifts

- Settlements

- Awards for damages

Anything owned by either partner prior to the relationship is exempt from this rule, but any increase in the value of those separately owned assets during the relationship is subject to equal division. For example, if one partner owned property before the relationship that was worth $500,000, the other is not entitled to half of it. However, if the property increased in value over the course of the relationship, and at the date of separation the property is now worth $1,000,000 the partner is entitled to half of that increase in value being $250,000. Examples of these types of assets include real property, business interests, bank accounts, pensions, and vehicles.

Let our Lawyers in New Westminster Help

Family law is a complex topic, and we highly recommend seeking the professional advice of Burnaby lawyers and New Westminster lawyers at LMN Law Group regarding your common law relationship. This can help you understand what your options are and to make a difficult time a little less stressful.

The information contained here should not be construed as legal advice. We strongly recommend that readers contact a lawyer to obtain legal guidance specific to their unique situations.