Property Rights under British Columbia’s Family Law Act


What you need to know about Property Rights under British Columbia’s Family Law Act.

In our primer on the Family Law Act, we outlined some of the major changes that arise under the new Family Law Act, which became law on March 18, 2013.

This article focuses on property rights, which are significantly altered under the new Family Law Act.  The new Family Law Act provides that, unless the parties have otherwise agreed in a marriage or cohabitation agreement:

  1. All family property and family debt is shared equally upon separation;
  2. “Family property” includes companies, bank accounts, investments, pensions, RRSPs and some trust properties regardless of the respective contributions by either spouse;
  3. All assets each party brings into the relationship or receives by gift or inheritance during the relationship are “excluded property”;
  4. The increase in value of all excluded property during the relationship is shared equally upon separation;
  5. The Family Law Act applies equally to married couples and unmarried couples who have lived together for at least two years;
  6. All family property is valued at fair market value as of the date of the separation agreement or court order;
  7. The Supreme Court may order an unequal division in limited circumstances.

The date of separation is the triggering event that defines the scope of property to be divided. It is important to be able to prove what that date is.

All assets brought into the relationship must be valued as of the date the relationship began so it is important to document valuation early on.  Marriage and Cohabitation Agreements are more important now than ever.  For more information please contact us at