Hi there, my name is Krystle Gill, and I’m a lawyer with Hart Legal, and today I’m going to talk to you about BC’s new Family Law Act. The new Family Law Act in BC is coming into force in this province on March 18, 2013. One of the main differences between the new Family Law Act, and its predecessor, the Family Relations Act, is the definition of family assets. Under the Family Relation Act, and as it was considered a family asset, it would have to be ordinarily used for a family purpose. Under the new Family Law Act, family property is defined as all property owned by at least one spouse at the date of separation, subject to some specific exceptions, such as property that was owned prior to the relationship, and gifts and inheritances, to a certain extent. For example, if one person brings property into the relationship, such as a house, the value of the house at the start of the relationship would be excluded. However, any increase in the value of the house throughout the relationship would be considered family property, and is subject to equal division.
The discussion of the differences between the outgoing Family Relations Act, and the incoming Family Law Act, occurred recently in the decision of Mr. Justice Smith on February 13, 2013. In the case between Talia Aquilini and Francesco Aquilini, the co-owner of the Vancouver Canucks hockey team, the property being discussed by Justice Smith was a wine collection that was amassed during the parties’ relationship, and included approximately 3,000 bottles of wine with an appraised value of $789,000 US. Mr. Aquilini said that he assembled the collection as a personal hobby, and that Ms. Aquilini, who does not drink wine, had never had anything to do with it. Therefore, Mr. Aquilini denied that the wine collection had been used for a family purpose. However, he admitted that some wine was sold at one point to pay family debts, which could make it a family asset under the Family Relations Act. Ultimately, the decision as to whether the wine collection is a family asset will be revealed after there is a trial between the parties, which is set for September 2013. Though this remains a live issue, where the disputed property is worth close to $800,000.
Under the new Family Law Act, this would clearly be family property, that would be subject to equal division between the parties, unless it would be significantly unfair. As you can see, under the outgoing Family Relations Act, it is unclear. There are changes coming to family law in British Columbia. Do you know how they will affect you?
If you have questions about how the new Family Law Act will affect you, look at the resources online, make an appointment with a lawyer, and inform yourself about your rights and responsibilities. Thanks for listening, this is Krystle Gill from Hart Legal, see you next time.