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Don’t Lose Your Dream Home to Your EX

House keys. Photo credit iStock

The housing market in Vancouver is one of the most expensive in the world, making it a massive challenge for people to buy their first home all on their own. 

Real estate in the Lower Mainland is often easier to acquire when two incomes are involved; meaning many homes are being purchased collaboratively, even if these individuals aren’t married.  

Buying a home with your significant other sounds like a good idea, until it’s not. 

In British Columbia, once you’ve lived in a marriage-like relationship with your partner for two years, you are now considered “common-law” (Government of British Columbia, 2022). This means that the property division laws now apply to your relationship, and if you and your partner ever breakup, the division of family property may start to get messy. 

What if you and your partner are buying your dream home together? Although it could lead to a ‘happily ever after,’ it could also cause some serious problems if a plan or agreement upon separation has not been discussed. 

If you and your common-law partner split, the property division rule says that “Couples will generally share equally any property that is acquired during their relationship” (Government of British Columbia, 2022). Although what each party put into an asset, like a home, will be protected as “excluded property,” this process can become tricky. Certain circumstances, like if the funds used to buy an asset are now comingled with other funds, what the intentions at the time of the purchase were, and the ability to trace the money back to before you began living together, can all complicate this process. If you don’t have a plan, there is a possibility that your assets, like your dream home, could be shared equally with your ex-partner.

To protect you and your assets, our real estate lawyers recommend getting a co-habitation agreement before you go in on any home purchases with your loved one. 

How to Get a Co-Habitation Agreement

A co-habitation agreement is a legally binding contract that dictates how property will be distributed if you separate. No one likes to think about the ‘what-ifs,’ but it’s important to be prepared. 

At Clark Woods LLP, our experienced counsel can prepare a co-habitation agreement for you and your partner so that you can feel better about combining your pay cheques into a major purchase.

But what if you and your partner don’t want to discuss your financials (and the worst-case scenario) in front of each other? That’s OK. Our lawyers can meet with partners individually, to ensure that both parties are satisfied. 

If you’re ready to start the next chapter, visit our Co-Habitation Agreement page or call 604-330-1777 to set up a consultation.

Clark Woods LLP Real Estate Team. Photo credit David Tam
The Clark Woods LLP Real Estate Team. Photo credit: David Tam