Division of Property in Divorce in British Columbia

The division of property in divorce in British Columbia is when you decide how to divide your marital assets and debt after you separate. Maybe that is why you have landed here. 

Whether you are married or have been in a “spousal-like” relationship (for two years or more), you will be affected by the law regarding the division of property in divorce in BC. How you divide your property is governed by the BC Family Law Act.

Often people don’t have a very clear idea as to what the BC Family Law Act says about dividing property. For example, in British Columbia we start from the place of “equally” dividing all the assets and debts that accumulated during a relationship. 

Depending on your circumstances, dividing your property can be complex or relatively simple. It is, however, almost always an emotionally charged process for people.

video: Division of Property in Divorce

Do you ever hear people say, “She got everything in the divorce”?

When people use the expression "she got everything" in a divorce, it is typically used to describe a situation where one spouse has been awarded a significant portion of the marital assets and property in a divorce settlement.

If you reside in a community property province such as British Columbia, it is likely that she did not “get everything,” but that she got half, she got the half that was already hers.

This is a hard pill to swallow for a lot of folks, and why division of property in divorce can be difficult for some.

In families where the parties have one stay-at-home parent and the other in the workforce, for example, the person in the workforce sometimes does not appreciate that half of their total marital assets are their spouse’s. So, when they realize that their house worth $1,000,000 or more has to be shared with their soon to be ex, they are ticked off about it.

If you're a high net worth individual, check out this article on high net worth divorce lawyers.

Just because you work outside of the home and your spouse stays at home, you are not entitled to more of the assets because you are the one who “paid for everything”

Family Law Lawyer, Val Hemminger in British Columbia

If you are in a spousal relationship, there is a built-in assumption that you will divide all marital assets and debt equally. That is, unless you have formally agreed otherwise in a cohabitation or marriage agreement.

In British Columbia, we are a no-fault, community property province, and this means that most divorce property division agreements divide assets equally upon separation.

There are, however, sometimes other considerations when dealing with property division in divorce. Divorce asset division must also be fair and consider the context of your family’s situation. Every family’s circumstances are unique, and the division of property in your divorce may involve other factors beyond the equal division of property, such as child support, spousal support, and other financial issues.

Let’s take a look at the parties we will call Batman and Robin:

Unlike the Batman character in the movies, the real Batman is not independently wealthy.

Batman and Robin have two children. Robin is the primary parent to the children, and Batman prefers it that way because Batman has run off with Harley Quinn and is way more interested in his new relationship than he is in parenting his kids. 

The problem is that Batman has never earned any money during the course of his and Robin’s relationship.

This is not because Batman has a disability, or unable to work for another reason, but, well, because Batman has preferred to pursue his own interests of fighting crime, and flying around as a bat-figure each night, rather than financially supporting his family.

Supporting the family has, financially, always been left up to Robin.

Now that Batman and Robin have separated, Robin is well aware that Batman has an obligation to support their two children, but Robin is well aware that Batman will never actually pay for his kids. Batman and Robin do own a house, though. That house is owned half by Batman, but instead of Robin asking for child support, Robin prefers that he keep the entirety of the house for himself and the children.

In Batman and Robin’s case, a fair division of property in divorce will have Robin retaining most of the marital assets in exchange for the child support she will not see from Batman. Robin wants to negotiate to get a greater share of the assets because it will assist him in raising the children. Batman fans may see this as unfair because they love Batman, but if you look at the overall full context of the situation, it is in everyone’s interest that Robin retains the family residence.

This allows Robin and the children to get on with their future without worrying about renting a place in a very expensive rental market. Batman will be free to go on fighting against evil and striking fear into the hearts of criminals everywhere.

Discover More About the Division of Property in Divorce:

Utilize a Property Division Lawyer 2

When considering the division of property in your divorce, you want to make sure you retain a property division lawyer. A property division lawyer is a family lawyer that focuses on you navigating the process of dividing your assets and debt with your ex-spouse. Such lawyers assist you in determining which assets are to be divided, which assets are not to be divided (also called excluded property), and which of you is to take on which portion of your debt. 

What to Include In Your Divorce Property Division Agreement

In your property division agreement, you must ensure that you cover all of your assets and debt in its provisions. As well, you want to make sure that your debt is treated fairly. For example, some people will automatically assume that if they take the car and the car has a loan owing on it because they have the car they will be entirely responsible for the loan.

But that is not always fair, is it? 

For example, let’s say you just purchased a Jeep Renegade hybrid SUV. You traded in your old Honda Civic and financed the rest of your new vehicle. You owe $30,000 on the loan. Yet, you guys had paid off your spouse’s car, which is a few years old. Is it fair that you absorb the entirety of the Jeep debt when your spouse has a newish vehicle without any loan owing on it? In three years from now, you might each have a vehicle worth approximately the same amount, but you have also been carrying a substantial debt. 

When figuring out what to include in your divorce property division agreement, you will want to get started with a divorce property division checklist. Your property division lawyer will help you with that.

High Net Worth Divorce Lawyers

Not all lawyers have the same experience or expertise. For example, some lawyers focus exclusively on parenting matters whereas others have focused more on financial issues such as asset division, child support, and spousal support issues. Still others have forged their reputation as high-net-worth divorce lawyers that assist parties who have high net worth. If that is you, you will want to discover what qualities you want in your high-net-worth divorce lawyer.