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Early conversations about property division can protect assets

Many people only consider protecting their assets from a partner when marriage comes up. However, as an increasing number of Canadians opt for common-law relationships, steps like moving in with a partner should be given the same careful consideration. In British Columbia, those who have earned or inherited assets should know about the laws governing property division and take steps to protect themselves in the case of a break-up.

Statistics from Mortgage Professionals Canada show that an increasing number of parents are contributing to down payments for their children. In fact, gifts towards a home have doubled since 2000. With 48 per cent of marriages ending in divorce, parents and their children are right to consider the dissolution of a relationship will affect assets an individual obtained prior to his or her relationships.

British Columbia residents who wish to protect their homes or other assets may consider a cohabitation agreement prior to moving in together. Documentation is key to ensuring these agreements are followed in the case of a separation. It can be helpful to have conversations about expectations, assets and property division earlier in a relationship rather than waiting until after marriage. Although it can be a difficult conversation, clarity can keep people from serious legal challenges in the future. 

When drafting a contract to define property division issues, understanding provincial family law is important. Lawyers can help with this type of planning, as well as advising on separation agreements, custody and other issues in the case of a divorce. Parents who are giving large financial gifts to children can also consult a lawyer to understand how they may be able to prevent a future ex from accessing the gift.

Source:, "Are your major financial assets protected as you enter into a serious relationship?", Dani-elle Dube National, Sept. 24, 2017

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