Estate & Family Law Blog

How does property division work in British Columbia?


The way property is divided for couples who are divorcing or separating in British Columbia is fairly straightforward in writing. However, as people in the midst of a divorce know, it can still be a frustrating and emotional experience. Under the Family Law Act, you and your spouse or common-law partner, may create a legal agreement detailing how your property will be divided. In the absence of such an agreement, the BC government has a set of rules by which property division occurs.

There are two property categories in British Columbia: family property and excluded property. Family property means everything you and your spouse own on the date you separate, including jointly and separately-owned property. Examples of family property include bank accounts, the family home, pensions, business interests, insurance policies and investments. Items that are deemed family property will be divided equally between you and your spouse unless equal division would be “significantly unfair” to one spouse.

Excluded property refers to anything each spouse owned before getting married or entering into a common-law relationship. Examples of excluded property include gifts received before marriage, inheritances and some types of insurance proceeds or damage awards. An important point to understand about excluded property is that any interest such property which accumulates after the relationship begins will be shared equally by both spouses in the property division process.

Even though property division in British Columbia appears clear on paper, any number of issues could arise to complicate the process. You would benefit greatly from seeking the guidance of a divorce lawyer to make sure you receive fair and equitable treatment when property is divided.

Source: Government of British Columbia, “What happens to family property when spouses separate?,” accessed Aug. 10, 2016

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