Vancouver Mandarin Chinese Common Law Separation Lawyer

Vancouver Mandarin Chinese Common Law Separation Lawyer

Vancouver Mandarin Chinese Common Law Separation Lawyer Featured Image

British Columbia allows common law marriages, and that means there are provisions for common law separations as well. Many of our Chinese clients are surprised to learn they will need to handle a common law separation exactly the same way they’d handle a divorce.

If you are a Chinese immigrant who is more comfortable speaking in Mandarin, you’ve come to the right place to get help with your separation. A separation can have just as many long-term financial consequences as a traditional divorce can, and you need experienced legal help to ensure that your interests are protected.

Our team of lawyers is fluent in both Mandarin and in family law. We can help you navigate the process of dissolving your common law partnership.

What is a Common Law Marriage?

In British Columbia you do not need a marriage certificate, civil ceremony, or religious ceremony to qualify as a spouse. Instead, you are recognized as a spouse if you have lived together in a marriage-like relationship for at least two years, or if you live together for less than two years and have a child together. Common law marriage is taken so seriously in Canada that we even allow common law partners to sponsor one another for permanent residency. 

The start date of the spousal relationship will always be counted as the day you began living together in a marriage like relationship. This determines when The Family Law Act begins to govern the rights and responsibilities both partners have towards one another. 

Why Common Law Partners Need Separation Agreements

Both partners have a 50% right to the property that they have attained since the beginning of their spousal relationship—exactly as if they’d entered into a traditional marriage. Both partners also have a guardianship relationship with their children exactly as if they’d entered into a traditional marriage.

That means all the major issues of a divorce will need to be resolved for a common law partnership as well. The terminology may be different (separation, vs. divorce) but the process is exactly the same.

That means assets and debts will be divided. Your partner or you may be eligible for spousal support. If there are children, custody will have to be awarded and co-parenting arrangements made. If there are children, one partner will most likely have to pay the other partner child support. 

Child support will be set according to Federal Child Support Guidelines just like it would be for a married couple. Spousal support would be set according to the same formulas, if it is determined that one member of the couple is eligible for support. 

The only way to be absolutely sure that you can enforce any agreement you come to with your partner is to formalize a separation agreement with British Columbia courts. This means any arrangement you come to will be backed by a court order, and enforced should your ex decide to stop abiding by the terms of your agreement. These orders also give you a leg to stand on if your ex tries to flee to China with your children.

Having a lawyer draft a separation agreement for you is one of the best ways to protect yourself. It allows us to negotiate on your behalf with an eye towards the sorts of complications that can arise when Chinese common law partners separate. For example, it’s often wise to take lump sum spousal support and perhaps even child support, simply because China won’t enforce these agreements if your ex decides to return. 

When drafting a separation agreement, note that both parties need their own lawyers. You should also treat this as a negotiation: if you can come to an amicable settlement agreement you’ll spend a lot less time and money resolving your separation. You can also take your ex to court if necessary, launching family law litigation or custody battles just like a married couple can. We do not advise this in most cases, though it may be necessary in scenarios where family violence has erupted. 

See also:

Vancouver Mandarin Chinese Spousal Support Lawyer

Vancouver Mandarin Chinese Child Support Lawyer

Vancouver Mandarin Chinese Child Custody Lawyer

Starting the Separation Process

Separation begins as soon as you and your spouse start living apart, and at the moment that at least one of you wants to end the relationship. Yet you do not have to move out of the home you share with your spouse in order to separate. You can move into a different bedroom, stop sharing meals and social activities, and decouple your accounts and bills from one another.

British Columbia does not require you to have a separation agreement in order to end your relationship. A separation agreement merely protects your rights to your property and your relationship with your children. You do not need anyone’s permission to separate

FAQ

What is a common law spouse entitled to in BC? 

A common law spouse is entitled to exactly the same benefits that a married partner would enjoy.

Common law spouses can claim ½ the spousal property, which is any property acquired after the date the partnership began. They may also apply for spousal support. If there are minor children, they have guardianship rights and responsibilities just as a married person would.

Can my common law partner kick me out of my home in British Columbia? Who gets to stay in the house during a separation?

Your partner cannot simply lock you out of the home. They would have to get a court order which gives them exclusive occupancy of the family home for a specific period of time. It does not matter whose name is on the lease or the mortgage. If the property is spousal property, you both have an interest in it.

In addition, you can protect your interest in the property. Filing a charge against the property under the Spouse Protection Act will prevent your spouse from selling the home without notice to you. You can also file a certificate of pending litigation to protect your interest in the home. Our lawyers will help you take any other steps, as well.

It’s usually very difficult to move back into the home once you’ve moved out. You don’t lose your legal interest in the home, but it often means the spouse who remains will get it while you get other things. Consult with your family law lawyer before attempting to move. You should also consult with your lawyer before changing the locks, even if you fear violence. There are legal steps you can take to avoid running afoul of the law when you fear for your safety, and we can help you take them. 

Can you be separated and live in the same house in British Columbia? 

Absolutely. Many spouses do this because they simply can’t afford to move anywhere else. To solidify the fact that you are separated, it is a good idea to move into a separate bedroom. You should also stop sharing meals and social activities with your spouse.

Decide who will pay what bills. This agreement will need to be worked into your separation agreement. Close all joint bank accounts and ensure your spouse is no longer an authorized user on the credit card. In general you can take half of whatever is in a joint bank account, though it’s always a good idea to consult with your lawyer before you withdraw any money.

What can you take with you if you are separated?

You should take copies of all financial documents including tax returns, bank statements, bills, and investment account statements. You should also take pay stubs. You need to take any of your own personal documentation such as driver’s licenses, passports, birth certificates, and other records. If you have children, you should take any records pertaining to your children, as well. 

You can take, without causing any legal issues at all, your medications and prescriptions, and your clothing and personal belongings. You can take any item that you know for sure you brought with you into the partnership prior to entering it. 

Other, more valuable property may need to be left where it is until you can have it divided by separation agreement. Speak to your lawyer before you leave the house, as there may be legal consequences for doing so which you will need to be aware of. 

Get Help Today

A common law separation is just as complex as a divorce is. There are even high earning, high net worth common law separations that require just as much expert advice and complex legal solutions as any marriage does. 

Don’t assume that you don’t need legal help just because there is no marriage certificate. Get help from our experienced, responsive, and caring team of family law lawyers. 

Chinese Lawyer Vancouver serves clients in Vancouver, Abbotsford, Langley, Surrey, and White Rock. Call to set up an appointment today.

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Please note: The information provided on this website is Not Legal Advice. The information may or may not be accurate. The information is for discussion purposes only. Reliance upon any information provided would not be grounds to advance a claim against Chinese Lawyer Vancouver for providing any advice. In order to get a formal legal opinion upon which you may rely about any specific fact scenario, you would have to first retain the services of a lawyer and request a formal legal opinion.