Do I Keep the Assets I Bring into my Relationship?

Changes to Family Law in BC

On March 18, 2013, the new BC Family Law Act, 2011 S.B.C., c.25 came fully into force replacing the former Family Relations Act.

Highlights from the new Act include:

  • New property division rules;
  • Focus on the best interests of the child;
  • Tools for non-compliance with parenting time orders;
  • Additional ways for parents to resolve their family law disputes;
  • New tools for family violence situations; and,
  • Provides relocation provisions for a parent to move with their children.

Property Division

Under the new Act, property division applies to both married and unmarried couples who have lived together for 2 years or longer.

Family property and debts obtained during the relationship will be subject to 50/50 division at separation.

Debts accumulated during the relationship are shared equally regardless of whether the debt is in one name or both.

Family property now includes all assets either or both spouses own at the date of separation unless the asset is excluded such as pre-relationship property, gifts to spouses, inheritances, and personal insurance payments and injury settlements except awards for losses for both spouses or for a spouse’s wages.

Even though excluded property is not included in the equal division of family property at the date of separation, any increase in value of the excluded asset during the relationship is divisible at separation.

Couples may also opt out of the new property division rules by written agreement.

Time with Child

When a parent denies time with the child to the other parent, the Act creates a range of remedies and tools for non-compliance over parenting time including requiring the parents to participate in family counselling or dispute resolution, provide compensatory parenting time, or require a parent to compensate for expenses such as lost wages or travel expenses.