Choosing to cohabit with a partner can be risky in British Columbia. If you’ve lived with a partner in a “marriage-like relationship” for at least two years then you are essentially married. If you had a child together that two-year period is shortened even further.
There is essentially no legal difference between a common law relationship and a formal marriage in BC, though at times the status of that relationship can be called into question, which will impact your finances when the relationship is dissolved.
Either way, separating and ending your common law marriage while protecting yourself financially requires the help of an experienced common law lawyer.
How do you end a common law relationship in BC?
To end the relationship itself you only need to start living apart.
Yet if you want a legally binding way to divide assets, secure spousal support, receive child support, and secure child custody, then you will need a formal separation agreement.
You and your lawyer will likely have to negotiate with your ex-partner’s lawyer to create the specifics of this agreement. Common law partners can also seek a resolution to any disputes in court, just as formally married couples can. For most couples, the goal will be to stay out of court.
What is a common law spouse entitled to in BC?
Like a formally married spouse, a common law spouse is entitled to 50% of the property acquired from the date the common law relationship began. While there may be some disagreements over what is and is not marital property, you can expect the division to be roughly equitable.
Of course, there’s nothing simple or straightforward about the equitable distribution of property. Some property isn’t particularly liquid. Some gets devalued by division.
This is one reason why it can be so valuable to consult with an experienced family lawyer. We are adept at helping our clients navigate these issues. We can help come up with equitable arrangements.
In addition to 50% of the property, some common law spouses may be entitled to apply for spousal support. There are deadlines for doing this, so if you know you will be seeking spousal support you should consult a lawyer as soon as you know the relationship is ending.
Why Merchant Law?
When you work with the lawyers at Merchant Law you get individuals with over 30 years of experience on your side. That means that we’re prepared to handle all the complications of your common law separation. We can help you bring your case to a reasonable and satisfactory outcome.
Call (604) 609-7777 to speak to a Surrey common law separation lawyer today.