The Family Law Act and Unmarried Couples in British Columbia
Unmarried couples who live together or lived together for a substantial amount of time are subject to many of the terms contained in the Family Law Act. For instance, those who lived together and thought of themselves as a couple are subject to property division laws if they were together for more than two years. Unmarried couples who lived together and had a child together could be impacted by child and spousal support laws regardless of how long the relationship lasted.
The reason why child support could be awarded after any length of time together has to do with the interdependence between the parents. Property division laws exist solely to ensure that any assets accumulated during a relationship are properly accounted for and divided between the couple. In most other legal matters, common-law couples are treated as married couples. For instance, they generally get the same tax treatment and the same rights of inheritance.
Currently, the number of common-law families in British Columbia are growing at a rate much faster than the number of married couples. Therefore, the law has evolved to recognize that couples who act as a family are treated as such even if they don’t formally marry. Those who are part of a common-law relationship and wish to end that relationship may wish to talk to a lawyer about their rights and obligations under the law.
In a collaborative law setting, the goal for both parties is to work together to come to a settlement that benefits both parties as well as their children. This may make it easier to maintain a civil relationship in the future, which may be in the best interests of the couple’s children. It may also lead to a resolution of the case in less time.