Dealing with Property and Debt

The property division laws have changed a lot in B.C. The Family Law Act, which came into effect on March 18, 2013, takes a different approach to property division than the old Family Relations Act.

These changes make the law simpler, clearer, and easier to understand. As well, the new law is a better fit with people’s expectations about what is fair. They share the property and debt that they accrue together during their relationship.

Under the Family Law Act, couples will generally share equally any property that accrues during their relationship — but not the property they brought into the relationship.

If a couple wishes to divide their property or debt differently, they can opt-out of the property and debt division rules by making an agreement.

The rules about how to divide property and debt apply to both:

  • Married couples, and
  • Unmarried couples who have lived together in a marriage-like relationship for at least two years (These couples are sometimes called common-law couples and are considered spouses under the family law.)

Time limit to apply for court order

  • If you were married, you must apply to divide property within two years after you get an order for divorce.
  • If you were living in a marriage-like relationship for at least two years, you must apply within two years of the date you separated.

We recommend you get legal advice before you make any final decisions about division of property and debt.

For more information, please see the fact sheet Dealing With Debts After Separation (for Married and Common-law Couples) by the Legal Services Society.