In a divorce case or a case in which the parties are unmarried but have lived together for two or more years, people in British Columbia can expect to go through a property division. Under the rules, property is categorized as family property or excluded property.
Family property is subject to division under the law. Unless the parties have an agreement otherwise, all family property will be divided equally between them. Family property includes the shared home, bank accounts, RRSPs, investments, insurance policies, pensions, business interests and any increased value of excluded property that occurred during the relationship. Courts will sometimes divide family property unequally between the parties if the court determines that doing otherwise would be significantly unfair. Practically speaking, however, courts divide family property equally in most cases.
Excluded property includes the property one person owned prior to the start of the relationship. It also includes any gifts or inheritances given to one person but not to the other during the relationship. Finally, excluded property also includes certain types of damage awards, trust property and insurance proceeds.
When people are separating or divorcing, they may wish to try to come to an agreement with their former spouse or unmarried partner regarding the division of their property. Property division can be difficult to figure out, however. It is often difficult for people to be able to reach an agreement regarding a property division. In those cases, people may benefit by speaking with a lawyer who practices in the area of divorce and family law. A lawyer may be able to help locate hidden assets, devise a proposed property division agreement and advocate for his or her client’s rights in court at contested hearings.
Source: Justice BC, “What happens to family property when spouses separate?“, November 20, 2014
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