While it is common knowledge that same sex marriage is legal in Canada, we often receive calls from people who want to know their rights or obligations as a spouse or parent in a same sex relationship.
The answer to the question “Are same sex couples Spouses under the Family Law Act?” is not a surprising one. You have the same rights and obligations as any other spouse or parent, regardless of your sexual orientation.
In British Columbia, if you have any family law issues such as those relating to guardianship, parenting arrangements, support or family property division, you will have to follow BC’s Family Law Act (Except for divorce, which is dealt with under the federal Divorce Act).
The Family Law Act uses gender-neutral terms to describe a person’s rights and obligations under the Act. For example, you are a spouse within the Family Law Act if you are “married to another person” or have “lived with another person in a marriage-like relationship … for a continuous period of at least 2 years”. If you are a spouse within the Family Law Act, as a general rule of thumb, you may then be entitled to various rights such as, “an undivided half interest in all family property” (See Section 81 of the Family Law Act).
If you wish to deviate from the Family Law Act, you are entitled to do so through an agreement, whether you are straight, gay, lesbian, transgender or bisexual. The key is, of course, that your partner agrees (save for issues relating to a child, which will ultimately be determined in the best interest of the child!)
For couples that are thinking about moving in together, consider having a cohabitation agreement. It is pretty much a prenuptial agreement, but without the marriage. For married couples a prenuptial agreement may be the way to go. For couples looking to part ways, a separation agreement may be just right.
We hope that we answered the question of “Are same sex couples spouses under the Family Law Act?”. If you require any further information regarding same sex couples and the Family Law Act please feel free to contact us at 604-449-7779. We will be there to help.