Separation needs no lawyer, but legal counsel can be helpful

If a relationship in British Columbia ends, it only needs to be made legal if the couple was married. If it was a common-law relationship, there are no court proceedings or documents to sign for a separation. As soon as one partner stops sharing the former partner’s bed, table and social activities, their separation will start. Although some say there is no need for legal counsel in such a separation, each case is unique, and the guidance of a lawyer might be necessary.

As in a divorce, there might be assets accumulated during the common-law relationship to divide, and what about child custody, support and visitation? What will happen to a family residence if the couple bought it together? Although it is not necessary for the court to finalise the separation, other issues may lead to litigation if the two parties cannot resolve it through negotiation.

When one party leaves the residence, essential items to take along include all documents identifying him or her and the children that might be moving with the parent. This includes ID documents, passports, Medicare cards and birth certificates. If that person plans to claim a share of the assets, copies of income and asset information, pay stubs, bank accounts and tax returns will be necessary. It might be difficult to obtain these copies later.

If a separation is amicable, the couple might want to utilise the services of an experienced divorce lawyer who can assist with the drafting of a separation agreement. Such an agreement can ensure the fair division of property and parenting arrangements that will protect the best interests of the children. With the support and guidance of a seasoned British Columbia lawyer, future litigation might be avoided.

Source:, “Separation“, Accessed on March 3, 2017

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