Living together without marrying in British Columbia is going to become a lot more complicated on March 18, 2013. The BC Government will put into effect a new version of the Family Law Act on that day, changing what living together has meant in law for the past 35 years.
Under the new law, any couple who have lived together (“cohabited”) for two years will be treated as a married couple in terms of a number of key rights if the relationship ends. Each of the two people will have the same rights they would have if they were married. This means that debts and assets will be divided equally between the two, and after the couple separate it will be possible to claim for spousal support and a share of common property.
Excluded from the equal division will be pre-relationship property, inheritances, and gifts.
Couples thinking of living together or already in a residential arrangement but not yet at the two-year mark should give serious thought to reaching a cohabitation agreement in which both partners fully disclose all of their debts and all of their assets. As Lawyer Alison Sawyer says, the wealthier of the two often has money tucked away for a rainy day that the other doesn’t know about. If there is not full disclosure and one of the partners is a lot more wealthy than the other partner knows, the poorer partner would be unlikely to want to give up the right to share that wealth if the relationship fails.
Sawyer comments. “Have a full and frank discussion about your finances and your willingness to share or not share. That’s not what people want to hear, but lawyers never tell people what they want to hear.”
* a Cohabitation/Prenuptial/Marriage Agreement for heterosexual couples,
* a Cohabitation/Prenuptial/Marriage Agreement for Same-Sex Couples, as well as
* a Jointly Acquired Asset Agreement, and
* a Separately Acquired Asset Agreement.
Blank, ready to be filled-forms are included on a CD.
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