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Couples who have lived in a marriage-like relationship for at least 2 years (referred to as “common law couples” for this article only) and married couples are both considered spouses under family law legislation in BC. Upon separation, both categories of spouses have the same rights. If the spouses have children, then there is no time limit to pursue a resolution to the children’s issues (e.g. guardianship, parenting time or child support).
However, timelines to pursue other rights begin upon separation for common law couples, who may start a court proceeding for an order for spousal support or to divide property, family debt or a pension, no later than 2 years after the date of separation. Spouses are considered separated if there is communication or action from one spouse that demonstrates an intention to separate permanently, even if the spouses continue to live in the same residence.
Similarly, married spouses may start a court proceeding for an order for spousal support or to divide property, family debt or a pension, no later than 2 years after a divorce order or annulment. If you have recently separated or obtained an uncontested divorce, but have unresolved issues relating to property, debt, pensions or spousal support, then you should pursue legal advice to avoid missing the deadline to pursue a claim.