Inheritances Under FLA
I am in a common-law relationship and I am expecting an inheritance:
Will this become my spouse’s property under the Family Law Act?
No. But there are exceptions so tread carefully!
Just as with the old Family Relations Act with regards to married couples, personal inheritances are excluded from family property.
However, the presumption that inheritances are protected is only a starting point. What could change that and result in your inheritance becoming a non-excluded piece of property could be dependent on when the monies were inherited and what they were used for in the years of your relationship.
It is best to consult with legal counsel and discuss how best to keep an inheritance as clearly one person’s separate property — and this is best to do when you two are getting along really well and you expect to be together for ever! Moreover, this should not be a secret from your spouse; rather, consider sitting down with the help of a mediator or collaboratively trained lawyers to plan this out in a written agreement that protects you and your spouse.
© Elaine M. Davies Law
Spouse’s Debt and the Family Law Act?
Will I be responsible for my spouse’s debt under the new Family Law Act?
Oddly, the old Family Relations Act did not mention debt! That of course did not mean that debt in the name of one party, however, was excluded as a family responsibility when the marriage broke down. A proper legal review of the purposes of the debt, knowledge of both parties etc. was considered in deciding how the debt would be apportioned.
The new Family Law Act puts this obvious principle clearly into the legislation governing family property.
Family Debt now specifically includes all financial obligations incurred by a spouse during the relationship and, after the date of separation, if the debt is incurred for the purpose of maintaining family property.
Therefore, you may very well be responsible for debt incurred by your spouse during your relationship.
As personal debt issues can be so huge and so damaging to a person’s life plans, it is really important to ensure that cohabitation, marriage and/or separation agreements clearly and properly deal with personal and family debt so that your arrangements are legally enforceable. Please consider consulting a lawyer!
© Elaine M. Davies Law
“Spouse” Under New FLA
What is a “Spouse” Under The Family Law Act?
It should be noted that the definition of who is a spouse has not really been expanded under the Family Law Act. What is new is how much faster someone you are involved with may become a spouse (for instance if you have a child together) and when that individual becomes a spouse, how much more of ‘your’ property has become ‘family’, and potentially open to being shared at a relationship breakdown. An example might be helpful: just as before, if you do not have children, an individual with whom you are residing with in marriage-like relationship will become legally your spouse after 2 years. This is no different from before EXCEPT the implication of now being deemed spouses is that the property division which previously presumptively only applied to married persons now also applies to common-law couples.
If you want your relationship to be governed by principles that differ from the structure of the Family Law Act, then you need to have a written agreement that clearly sets your arrangement out. I strongly urge you to consult a lawyer and invest in this document before you marry and/or become legally a common law couple!
copyright Elaine M. Davies 2014