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British Columbia Common Law Separation.

The latest Canadian census in 2011 shows that common-law relationships are growing faster than marriages by a ratio of 3 to 1. Yes, more people are choosing not to “tie the knot” but to live as unmarried partners. However, the rights of BC residents living together outside of marriage are unknown or misunderstood – even by those who live in common-law relationships.

common law quarrel

The B.C. Family Law Act

On March 18th, 2013 the B.C. Family Law Act replaced the Family Relations Act and changed the way common-law relationships are viewed by the government. With the law’s passing, cohabitative, marriage-like relationships that last for at least two years are granted the same rights and protections as those who chose to become legally married. The effect of this new legislation is dramatic, as the B.C. Family Relations Act did not cover common-law relationships whereas the new Family Law Act does. Common-law relationships between same-sex couples are legally recognized.

Who is affected?

The Family Law Act legally defines a “spouse” not only as someone who is legally married but also as anyone who has “lived with another person in a marriage-like relationship for a continuous period of at least two years” or someone with whom you have children. The new law includes protocols for how the dissolution of common-law relationships is to be handled in court.

What happens if my common-law relationship ends?

Couples who have been living together for two years share the same legal rights as married couples, including a 50/50 split of shared debts and assets, excluding pre-relationship property, inheritances, and gifts. In the past, people who had been living together for decades were not entitled to share in assets accrued during the relationship. Generally, separated spouses have up to one year from the date of separation to apply for spousal and child support. Utilizing a neutral mediator during the transition out of a common-law relationship assures that these deadlines are met with time and money to spare.

What if I have children within a common-law relationship?

Unmarried but cohabiting couples that have children together share legal guardianship. Child support, parenting time, and parenting agreements in common-law relationships are handled using the same guidelines for married couples. Separation agreements crafted with the help of a neutral mediator can significantly ease the stress of ending a common-law relationship where there are children involved.

How can we help?

We have helped many couples living common law in B.C. negotiate their separation agreements when their relationships have ended. We help you negotiate your separation plan so you can meet with your trusted lawyer fully prepared. With the recent implementation of the B.C. Family Law Act, it is more important than ever to make sure the transition out of your common-law relationship is professionally mediated. Your time and stress levels are important to us as you prepare for a new chapter in life.

Please note that there is no such thing as common-law marriage in B.C. nor in any province or territory in Canada. It doesn’t matter how long you live with your common-law partner; you will never be considered married by the law.

On the Doorstep of Relationship Breakdown?

If you are contemplating or starting the process, opt for a peaceful and stress-free solution.
Give us a call at 250.707.0928, or request a consultation.

how to divorce in bcAbout Kelowna Divorce Mediation Services

We are not expensive lawyers; we are family divorce mediators.  Our boutique divorce mediation firm has quickly become Kelowna’s first choice when dealing with separation, divorce and rebuilding afterwards. It is possible to reduce stress, time and conflict. Our mediation and rebuilding modes educate and empower our clients, so that when you leave you have a document that will stand the test of time and a rebuilding process that you can count on.

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