What is excluded property?

Excluded property is property that may not have to be split up in divorce because you (or your spouse) owned it prior to the marriage. This means it isn’t family property, like things you bought after you got married. While you have to split those things up, you can claim that you alone should get the excluded property.

One thing to note is that increases in property value may count as family property, even if the main item itself does not.

For example, perhaps you bought a house by yourself for $200,000. You then got married, and the value from the date of your marriage to the date of your divorce increased to $250,000. While you can claim that the $200,000 is excluded property, you’re likely going to need to split the $50,000 increase in half, for $25,000 each.

You can also trace excluded property to things you bought during the marriage, if you sold that property to buy something else. This can get complicated as money gets spread out or when there are multiple sales, but the basic principle is simple. If you sell your house and use your $225,000 to buy another house when you move to a new city, the new house could also be excluded, even though you were married when you bought it.

As you can see, splitting up assets isn’t always as straightforward as you may assume, but the rules are designed to protect your realistic investment in your property. Be sure you know how these rules work and what property you have a right to in British Columbia.

Source: Legal Services Society, “How to divide property and debts,” accessed Aug. 12, 2016

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