Family Property In British Columbia

dividing family property in bc

Family Property in BC Explained

During a separation, one item that regularly arises is how to divide the family property. Chances are fairly high that during the course of your union, you and your partner have acquired property together. The Family Mediation Center has provided great information on how property is divided in BC among unmarried and married couples. This is a great resource to pay careful attention to as you move through your divorce proceedings.

If you have any other questions about the division of family property in BC, please reach out to me directly with your questions.

How Family Property is Divided in BC

In B.C., the rules about the division of family property apply to both married couples and unmarried couples who have been living together in a marriage-like relationship for at least two years.

There are two categories of property:

  1. Family property
  2. Excluded property

When spouses separate, all family property is shared equally, unless the couple has a separation agreement that states something else.

Family property is everything that you or your spouse owned separately or together on the date you separate. It does not matter whose name the family property is in.

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Family property includes:

  • The family home
  • RRSPs
  • Investments
  • Bank accounts
  • Insurance policies
  • Pensions
  • An interest in a business
  • The amount of any increase in the value of the excluded property since the relationship started

Some things are not considered family property. They are excluded from the rule that the property must be divided equally.

  • Excluded property includes:
  • Property one spouse owned before the relationship started
  • Gifts and inheritances given to one spouse during the relationship
  • Some kinds of damage awards, insurance proceeds, and trust property
  • But if the value of the excluded property increased during the relationship, that increase in value is considered family property and is divided equally.

If a couple wishes to divide their property or debt differently, they can make a separation agreement.

The general rule: Your house is “family property”

Everything that the spouses own separately or together on the date they separate is considered “family property” under BC law. See here for our family lawyer’s discussion of how to determine your separation date. The general rule is that your house is “family property” under the law in BC even if the title to the property is not in your name.

Family property is shared equally, and so is family debt

family property and family debt are shared equally when the spouses separate regardless of their respective use or contribution to the property. That means that each spouse is entitled to a ½ interest in all family property such as a house owned by the spouses on the date they separate regardless of whose name is on the title to the house. It also means that both spouses are equally responsible for family debt such as the mortgage on the house.

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Who gets to live in the house when spouses separate?

If you are thinking about separating or are in the process of separation, the question of who gets to continue living in the house post-separation is a different issue. Neither spouse is required to move out unless one spouse obtained a court order for exclusive occupancy or there are specific no contact orders in place as a result of a criminal proceeding. Both spouses can reside in the same house and still be separated as long as they are living “separate and apart.”

Do you have more questions about the division of family property in BC?

Please contact me if you require more details about dividing family property in BC. The Family Mediation Center would love to assist you with a separation agreement that is agreeable to both parties.