EDITORIAL: Breaking up is hard to do

The new Family Law Act likely won't prevent couples from using courts to obtain "fair" split of property

Pierre Elliot Trudeau once famously said, “The state has no business in the bedrooms of the nation.”

That was in reference to the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1968-69, which decriminalized homosexuality, made way for abortion and contraception, regulated lotteries, gun possession and drinking and driving offences – a scenario we take for granted today.

In its latest attempt to poke its nose into our bedrooms, the province’s new Family Law Act will help protect those in common-law relationships if and when the romance dies.

While the new rules clarify the partners’ responsibility for their children, they also make division of assets a little easier, a move the government says will keep more unhappy couples out of court.

As with any change to the law, it’s the lawyers who will see the biggest benefit. People already living common-law and those thinking of shacking up with a romantic partner will now be drawing up cohabitation agreements – planning well beyond who gets the record collection when it’s over.

And while the new rules certainly close a number of loopholes in terms of spousal and child support, there will be unintended consequences, with potentially more at stake financially at the time of a break-up.

It’s only human nature to want what you have coming to you – even if it’s only because the government has said you deserve it. It’s this kind of thinking that might well lead more splitting couples to the courtroom than anticipated.

The new Act gives us all something to think about. Things like purchasing a new car, investing in real estate or RRSPs might best be done before emptying a drawer in your bureau for a new partner.

You might also want to think twice before moving in with someone who is going back to school and about to amass student debt  – because if you part ways, along with those old Neil Sedaka LPs  – you’ll get half of that too.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Saanich Peninsula plugs into EV ownership

Sidney and Central Saanich record the second and third-highest EV ownership rate per 1,000 residents

PHOTOS: Kids, parents cool off at Langford splash park

Centennial Park is home to a popular water feature

Colwood man to ride 400 kilometres to fight kids cancer

Man riding for a beloved family member who died from leukemia at 13-years-old

Saanich woman completes 10 marathons, raises double her initial goal amount

Over $20,000 raised for Victoria Hospitals Foundation

UPDATED: Missing 25-year-old Saanich woman found Saturday

Yuhan Jin thought to be travelling by foot or bus, carrying two suitcases

VIDEO: Otter pups learn to swim at B.C. wildlife rescue facility

Watch Critter Care’s Nathan Wagstaffe help seven young otters go for their first dip

Alleged impaired driver sparks small wildfire near Lytton after crash: B.C. RCMP

Good Samaritans prevented the blaze from getting out of control

Travel restrictions inspiring co-operation in border communities

Small border towns are asking for exemption to travel ban

B.C. First Nation adopts ‘digital twinning’ software to better manage territory

Software allows users to visualize what a mountain might look like if the trees on its slopes were logged

Woman arrested near Nanaimo beach after alleged road rage incidents

37-year-old woman facing charges including assault, assaulting a police officer, impaired driving

All inquiry recommendations implemented after fatal Port Hardy RCMP shooting: Ministry

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. cleared the RCMP officers involved of wrongdoing

Leave your deets when dining: Restaurants taking personal info to trace COVID-19

Health officials say indoor dining presents a higher risk

Raptors kneel for both American and Canadian anthems ahead of tipoff

Majority of players have substituted their names on the backs of their jerseys with racial and social justice messages

Most Read