Penny Paul

Family Law


Division of Property

For the first time in British Columbian history, as of March 18, 2013, parties that are not legally married have legislated property rights on separation.   For legally married spouses and spouses that have lived in a marriage-like relationship for a continuous period of at least two years, division of property is governed by the Family Law Act which came into effect on March 18, 2013.

In the case of spouses that are not legally married the application must be made within two years of the date of separation and in the case of married spouses within two years of the date of the divorce.

If you are out side the time limit or do not meet the definition of "spouse" you may still have a claim under the equitable principles of  unjust enrichment. Click here for a link to a paper written by Penny Paul for the Continuing Legal Education Advanced Family Law course on the topic of unjust enrichment and property claims.

Under the Family Law Act, not all property will be divided with the spouse.  The general rule is that the following property is excluded from division:

  • property aquired before the relationship;
  • gifts or inheritances;
  • an award of damages for personal injury;
  • certain insurance proceeds;
  • certain trust property; and
  • property derived from the above.
The critical piece is that the increase in the value of the excluded property is not excluded.

Tip – to successfully exclude property you must be able to trace the excluded property or the proceeds into an existing property.  Paperwork and valuations will be important.

Penny Paul has designed hundreds of complicated property divisions for various clients for over twenty years.

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