When do I become a spouse for the purpose of property division under the Family Law Act in B.C.?

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People often wonder if the property division rules in the Family Law Act of B.C. apply to their relationship. In order to answer that question, it is important to determine if you are a spouse as defined in the Family Law Act.

The Family Law Act defines a spouse as someone who:

  • is married to another person, or
  • has lived with another person in a marriage-like relationship, and
    • has done so for a continuous period of at least 2 years, or
    • Except for the purposes of property division, has a child with the other person.

It is important to note that spouses who have a child together, but are not married and have not lived together for two years are excluded from the property division rules of the Family Law Act.

Should you fall under the definition of spouse, then the dates that a relationship began and ended are particularly important for the division of property, since most property acquired during the relationship is family property and subject to division. According to the Family Law Act, a relationship began on the earlier of: the marriage date or the date you began to live together in a marriage-like relationship. Property held prior to the marriage or marriage-like relationship may be excluded from division. Please see our article on excluded property.

We hope this article helps answer the question “When do I become a spouse for the purpose of property division under the Family Law Act in B.C.?”

Should you have any further questions on property division, the definition of spouse, or the Family Law Act in B.C. please contact us. We would be honoured to assist you.

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