The Importance of Cohabitation Agreements
Planning to pack up and move in with your latest romantic partner? Before loading the U-Haul, you may want to acquaint yourself with the provisions of British Columbia’s Family Law Act.
Since March 2013, British Columbians living in so-called “common-law” relationships are subject to the same provincially imposed property-division scheme as are legally married spouses on relationship breakdown.
If you and your partner have lived together in a marriage-like relationship for two years, you are considered “spouses” under the Family Law Act and, upon separation, are subject to the property division and debt sharing rules of the Act.
The provisions in the Act are, however, subject to agreement or court order. By making a written agreement in accordance with the Act, you and your partner make your own plan as to how you wish to divide your property in the event of relationship breakdown.
If you are the party in the relationship with the majority of assets or if your partner has poor spending habits, you should strongly consider having a written agreement in place. Even for those individuals entering a relationship with no assets, it is of course prudent to be aware of your rights and obligations and how the Act may affect any property or debt either of you acquire during the relationship.
Failure to turn one’s mind to these issues in advance could result in unintended (and often unfavorable) consequences on relationship breakdown.