University of Denver

New Legislation Affects Common Law Partnerships in British Columbia

IAALS Intern

Under British Columbia's new Family Relations Act, unmarried couples who have lived together for more than two years will now have the same property rights as married couples. The changes went into effect March 18 and require common law spouses to "evenly split family debt and anything purchased during their relationship, including property, in the event of a break-up." Those in marriage-like relationships lasting less than two years are not included in the property division rules, but if the relationship produced children the couple may be entitled to receive spousal support. CTV News indicates that the legislative changes were made to decrease the number of families and couples in court and recommends partners discuss early on how to split debt and property along with potential spousal support details. Accordingly, common-law partners can choose to opt-out of the property splitting and spousal support requirements by entering into a cohabitation agreement.

Cindy Pham is a third year law student at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law and contributes to IAALS Online. Please direct inquiries about this post to