How Do I Get Out of Sharing My Assets?
Married spouses and unmarried spouses
Married spouses and unmarried couples who have lived together for at least two years are presumed to have a one-half interest in all property either or both of them acquired after the date the couple married or began to live together, whichever came first. Certain property is excluded from the family property the spouses are expected to divide, including:
- the value of the property owned by each spouse on the date the couple married or began to live together, whichever came first,
- property bought with the property owned by each spouse on the date the couple married or began to live together,
- inheritances and gifts (provided that the gift was to the spouse only and not to the couple) received during the relationship,
- court awards and insurance proceeds received during the relationship, and
- trusts to which the spouse did not contribute and does not control.
If you want to do better than this, you'll have to sign a marriage agreement or a cohabitation agreement at some point before or shortly after you marry or begin to live together.
If you don't want to spend the money getting an agreement drawn up, here are some other things that can help:
- When you begin to live together, take copies of the statements from all of your bank, investment, retirement, credit, and loan accounts, copies of your BC Assessments for all real property and staple them together and put them in a safety deposit box. This will help you to establish the value of the property you brought into the relationship.
- During your relationship, keep a careful record of what you buy with the property you brought into the relationship.
- During your relationship, keep records of the dates and values of any inheritances, gifts, insurance proceeds, or court awards that you receive.
- If you received a gift during the relationship, keep documents evidencing the intention of the donor (i.e. a letter, note, or electronic communication from the donor stating that the funds were a gift only to this particular person/spouse and not a gift to the couple, especially if the funds are subsequently used to purchase family property).
- Keep an eye on the debts your spouse incurs during the relationship.
You can find out more about how married spouses and unmarried spouses divide property and debt in the chapter Property & Debt in Family Law Matters.
|This information applies to British Columbia, Canada. Last reviewed for legal accuracy by Helen Chiu, May 14, 2019.|
|JP Boyd on Family Law © John-Paul Boyd and Courthouse Libraries BC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada Licence.|
Normally referred to as the "Supreme Court of British Columbia," this court hears most court proceedings in this province. The Supreme Court is a court of inherent jurisdiction and is subject to no limits on the sorts of claims it can hear or on the sorts of orders it can make. Decisions of the Provincial Court are appealed to the Supreme Court; decisions of the Supreme Court are appealed to the Court of Appeal. See "Court of Appeal," "jurisdiction," "Provincial Court," and "Supreme Court of Canada."
A court established and staffed by the provincial government, which includes Small Claims Court, Youth Court, and Family Court. The Provincial Court is the lowest level of court in British Columbia and is restricted in the sorts of matters it can deal with. It is, however, the most accessible of the two trial courts and no fees are charged to begin or defend a family court proceeding. The Family Court of the Provincial Court cannot deal with the division of family property or matters under the Divorce Act. See "judge" and "jurisdiction."
Something which can be owned. See "chattels" and "real property."
A term under the Family Law Act referring to property acquired by either or both spouses during their relationship, as well as after separation if bought with family property. Both spouses are presumed to be equally entitled to share in family property. See "excluded property."
Under the Divorce Act, either of two people who are married to one another, whether of the same or opposite genders. Under the Family Law Act, married spouses, unmarried parties who have lived together in a marriage-like relationship for at least two years, and, for all purposes of the act other than the division of property or debt, unmarried parties who have lived together for less than two years but have had a child together. See "marriage" and "marriage-like relationship."
A voluntary transfer of property from one person to another, without expectation of payment or reward. Gifts to one spouse do not usually qualify as family property, and are excluded from the pool of property to be divided. See "donee," "donor," "excluded property," and "family property."
An agreement signed by people who are planning on marrying or have married that is intended to govern their rights and obligations in the event of the breakdown of their marriage and, sometimes, their rights and obligations during their marriage. See "family law agreement."
An agreement signed by people who are or have begun to live together in a marriage-like relationship that is intended to govern their rights and obligations in the event of the breakdown of their relationship and, sometimes, their rights and obligations during their relationship. See "family law agreement."
A parcel of land and the buildings on that land. See "chattel," "ownership," and "possession."
A person who gives something as a gift or as a bequest, freely and without expectation of payment in return.
A sum of money or an obligation owed by one person to another. A "debtor" is a person responsible for paying a debt; a "creditor" is the person to whom the debt is owed.