Common-Law Relationships: Only in British Columbia

The Family Law Act (2012) is now fully implemented in British Columbia. Family Lawyers, Mediators, Parenting Coordinators and companies bringing family law technologies to the public are all studying the legislation, rules and regulations to see what it all means.

Common-law relationships fall under provincial jurisdiction in Canada so like Las Vegas, “what happens in BC stays in BC”. The way common law relationships are understood in Ontario or the very different way common law relationships are regulated in Quebec will have no effect on common law couples separating in British Columbia.

If you live in British Columbia common-law relationships are generally understood to describe couples that live together in an arrangement akin to marriage. While there is no ceremony or legal documents to indicate marriage 2 years of living together as a couple or one year and a child born to the couple equals “common law status”. In British Columbia the laws that affect married “spouses” will now apply to those who are considered a “spouse” in a common law relationship.

Remember in British Columbia, couples living together for two years, or a couple living together one year and having a child together are entitled to a 50/50 split of shared debts and assets not including property or inheritances acquired before the relationship began.

Common law and married couples are encouraged to read the new Family Law Act to understand what has changed and how it will affect the division of property and the care of children, now called Parenting Time, should you choose to separate from your “spouse”.

Lawyers and Mediators associated with Smartsettle Centre for Family Resolutions are ready to assist you during this time of confusion and change.







This is why the recent B.C. ruling is unique, because now, couples who have been living together for two years are entitled to a 50/50 split of shared debts and assets — excluding any pre-relationship property or inheritances.