The hot Vancouver real-estate market in recent years has created a unique situation for separating couples who own property during the relationship and must now divide their property. People are often surprised when they seek legal advice and learn how their property—specifically, real property that has increased significantly in value during and after the relationship—is divided according to family law in British Columbia.
To understand the unique situation created by the hot real-estate market, you will first need to understand which property constitutes “family property”—which is property that will be divided equally between the spouses (note that there are some exceptions to equal division, depending on the circumstances)—and how family property is valued according to B.C.’s Family Law Act.
Family property includes property that you or your spouse owned on the date you separate, regardless of whose name the property is registered in. This is often one fact that surprises people, as many people assume that their ex can only receive a share of the property if their name is on the title.
Some properties are not considered family property and are called “excluded property”. Excluded property includes property that one spouse owned before the relationship started—however, the increase in value of the excluded property during the relationship is family property and will be subject to division.
So, for example, if one party owned property prior to the relationship and the property was valued at $100,000 at the beginning of the relationship, the $100,000 is excluded property. However, if the property increased in value during the relationship to, say, $200,000, the $100,000 increase in value will be divided equally between the parties.