When Does the Court Order an Equal Property Division?In BC, the court will usually order an equal division of family property and debt on separation regardless of their respective contributions under Section 81 of the Family Law Act, unless there is an agreement that says otherwise. If a family law claim has been started in BC Supreme Court, spouses can agree to an unequal division of property and debt and incorporate the terms of their agreement into a Consent Court Order.
When Does the Court Order Unequal Division of Family Property?The court may order an unequal division of family property in cases where there is a significant difference in the value of the parties’ property or where one party has significantly greater income-earning capacity than the other. The court may also consider other factors, such as the length of the marriage and the needs of the parties, in determining whether to order an unequal division of property. Valid reasons for an unequal division of family property can include, but are not limited to:
- One spouse contributed significantly more to the acquisition, preservation, or improvement of the property;
- One spouse has a significantly greater need for the property;
- One spouse will suffer significantly more significant hardship if the property is divided equally;
- The property is subject to a significant debt or other liability;
- The property is a family home, and dividing it equally would be impractical or cause undue hardship; or
- Other special circumstances justify an unequal division.
What Are the Factors That Influence the Court’s Decision for Unequal Division of Family Property?The court takes into account a number of factors when making a decision about the unequal division of family property. Some of the key considerations include:
- The length of the marriage;
- The contributions made by each spouse during the marriage (including financial and non-financial contributions);
- The needs of each spouse;
- The age and health of each spouse;
- The income and earning capacity of each spouse;
- The value of the property to be divided;
- The impact of the division of property on the ability of each spouse to meet their needs;