On May 11, 2023, new amendments to the British Columbia Family Law Act (the “FLA”) came into effect. These changes reflect the evolving realities of modern families in BC and are intended to provide more guidance regarding the division of property, spousal support, and division of pension.
Notably, the following changes were made to the FLA:
Section 81.1: Eliminates the common-law presumption of advancement to transfers between spouses. The new law states:
(1) The rule of law applying a presumption of advancement must not be applied in questions respecting the ownership of property as between spouses.
(2) The rule of law applying a presumption of resulting trust must not be applied in questions respecting the ownership of property as between spouses.
Section 85(3): Clarifies the presumption of resulting trust in family property disputes. The new amendments make it clear that if a property is excluded under Section 85 (1), the exclusion still applies even if the property’s legal or beneficial ownership was transferred from one spouse to another.
Sections 96: Clarifies the division of excluded property. The new rules add factors that the court must consider when ordering a division of excluded property. These factors consider whether the where is family property or family outside of BC that cannot be practicably divided or if it would be significantly unfair not to divide the excluded property given various factors which are also outlined in the FLA amendments.
Sections 3.1, 92, and 97: Includes the definition “companion animals and recognizes the important relationship of pets in a family and provides for special treatment and guidelines for pet custody upon separation.
Part 6: Updates to rules regarding the division of pensions to modernize the law on: locked-in retirement accounts and life income funds, private annuities, waiving survivor benefits after pension commencement, the powers of a personal representative after the death of a spouse, the transfer and calculation of commuted values, disability benefits, and transition provisions.