The Family Law Act governs the division of family property upon a separation. The general rule is that all property is divided equally between each spouse, regardless of how much each spouse used or contributed to it. Similarly, each spouse is equally responsible for all debts incurred during the marriage or common law relationship.
Family property can include:
- Real estate;
- Bank accounts;
- A share or interest in a corporation;
- Money owing to a spouse, including tax refunds;
- Entitlements to a RRSP, pension plan, or other retirement plan;
- Furniture and cars;
- An interest in a business.
Exclusions and exceptions apply to the rule. For example, property acquired by a spouse before the relationship between the spouses began are excluded from family property. However, any increases in value in that property during the relationship could be divided. Awards or settlements to compensate injury or loss is excluded, unless that award was for both spouses or to compensate lost income.
Sometimes, the BC Supreme Court may order an unequal division of family property or debt if it would be significantly unfair to divide the property and/or debt equally.
Disagreements are common when dividing property. It is not always easy to determine what property should or should not be included, the valuation of some property, or whether it is fair to divide certain assets or debts equally. Some property is not easy to divide and creative solutions are required.
At Jiwa Law Corporation, our family lawyers are highly experienced and can give you honest, straightforward advice when determining your entitlement. We can help you sort through family assets and debts, even if some are hidden. We can walk you through the necessary steps to protect and enforce your property interests. Our team of experienced litigators will advocate for your best interests in negotiations, mediations, or at trial.