The Importance of the Date of Separation in BC Family Law
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The Importance of the Date of Separation in BC Family Law

Divorce is one of the worst events anyone can experience, especially if they have been married for a long time and have children. Unfortunately, some marriages do not work out, and it is sometimes the best option because it can be a way to move on with life on a positive note for both parties. However, in certain places, such as British Columbia, certain things are needed to start the proceedings, such as the date of separation.

British Columbia requires the date of separation because it is the basis of many family laws in the area. For one, it affects the claims either party can make, including spousal support, child support, and property division. Conversely, it can also affect the debts the divorcing couple should pay for. Beyond that, few people know why the date of separation matters, so we will discuss the details in this article.

What Is the Date of Separation?

The date of separation is precisely what it sounds like: the date a married couple separated to mark the start of their divorce proceedings. In British Columbia, couples are considered separated as soon as one of them decides that the relationship is over, and they stop living together as a couple. It does not matter if they still live in the same house or different homes; all that matters is that they are no longer living as a couple. In other words, the date of separation is not necessarily the same as the date one of them moves out of the house.

Agreeing on the Date of Separation

When the date of separation is contested, it is necessary to look at the evidence to decide if one or both partners intended to break up. The facts will be analyzed to determine if this was intended, including the partners’ behaviour before and after the alleged separation, such as if they still shared finances, had sexual relations, or acted as a couple in public.

When couples have separated, there may be disagreement about when the separation happened. This can be a problem if one partner claims certain rights or privileges related to the date of separation. Sometimes, the couple may have had reconciliation periods or still live under the same roof, making it difficult to determine when the split occurred. In other cases, one partner may be trying to establish a different date of separation to gain a larger share of the family property or to avoid responsibility for the shared debt.

How Separation Date Affects Property Division

BC law requires dividing assets among the parties regarding the relationship’s breakdown. This may include both family and excluded property. Family property is anything acquired during the relationship, while the excluded property is anything owned before the relationship or received as a gift or inheritance. Both parties must agree to the division of the property, or else the court will decide it.

For family property, both spouses are entitled to an equal share of the family property unless they have previously agreed to something different through a prenuptial agreement, marriage contract, or some other agreement. On the other hand, excluded property acquired after the date of separation is not subject to division and, instead, remains the sole property of the individual who received it.

How Family Debt Is Affected

At its core, family debt is treated the same as family property. This includes any financial commitments made by either partner during their relationship until the point of separation. This could consist of mortgages, credit cards, lines of credit, loans, and overdrafts. The date of separation is a critical factor because, from that date onwards, each spouse is responsible for half of the family debts.

However, any debts incurred after the date of separation are solely the responsibility of that individual. The only exception is if the debt is taken to preserve family assets.


The date of separation matters before starting divorce proceedings, so you must know yours for a smooth process. It will not be easy, but you must remember that all assets must be divided equally so that both parties will get a fair share. This way, both parties can move on with their lives without worrying about financial issues incurred during the marriage.

If you are looking for practitioners of family law in Abbotsford, Pathfinder Law can help you! We understand the legal complexities of family law, so we will work to ensure your familial rights are protected and you get rightful compensation. Call us today at 604-850-4685 for a consultation!

Disclaimer – The information contained herein is of a general nature. It is not intended to be legal advice and it is not intended to address the exact circumstances of any particular individual or entity. You should not rely on or act upon such information without receiving appropriate professional advice and without a thorough examination of your particular situation.