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  • Writer's pictureM Finkelstein

Navigating Common Law Separation: Legal Rights for Residents of British Columbia

In the province of British Columbia, couples who choose to live together without getting married are considered to be in a common-law relationship. While common law partnerships offer many of the same benefits and responsibilities as married couples, there are significant legal differences, particularly when it comes to separation. Understanding your rights and obligations during a common-law separation is crucial to navigating this challenging time. In this blog post, we'll explore the legal rights for residents of British Columbia who are going through a common-law separation.


Defining Common Law Relationships: In British Columbia, a common-law relationship is defined as two people who have lived together in a marriage-like relationship for at least two years, or less than two years if they have a child together. This definition applies regardless of whether the couple has formally registered their relationship.


Property Division: One of the most significant differences between married couples and common-law partners in British Columbia is how property is divided upon separation. Unlike married couples, common-law partners do not have an automatic right to an equal division of property. Instead, property is divided based on ownership and contributions made during the relationship.


Debts and Assets: During a common-law separation, debts and assets acquired during the relationship are typically divided based on ownership and contributions. It's essential to keep detailed records of financial transactions and contributions to ensure a fair division of assets and liabilities.


Child Custody and Support: When common-law partners have children together, issues of child custody, parenting arrangements, and child support must be addressed upon separation. In British Columbia, the best interests of the child are paramount when determining custody and support arrangements. Both parents have a legal obligation to support their children financially, regardless of their relationship status.


Spousal Support: Unlike married couples, common-law partners do not have an automatic right to spousal support upon separation. However, if one partner can demonstrate that they are entitled to financial assistance based on factors such as the length of the relationship, the roles each partner played during the relationship, and any economic disadvantages suffered as a result of the relationship, they may be eligible to receive spousal support.


Legal Recourse: If you're going through a common-law separation in British Columbia, it's essential to seek legal advice from a family lawyer who specializes in family law. A lawyer can help you understand your rights and obligations, negotiate a fair separation agreement, and represent your interests in court if necessary.


Conclusion: Navigating a common-law separation can be challenging, but understanding your legal rights and obligations is essential to achieving a fair and equitable resolution. Whether it's dividing property, determining child custody and support, or seeking spousal support, residents of British Columbia have legal recourse to protect their interests during this difficult time. By seeking legal advice and exploring your options, you can navigate the complexities of a common-law separation with confidence and clarity.

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