Debt After Separation and Divorce: How It's Divided In Canada - Zukerman Law

Debt After Separation: How It’s Divided In Canada

When you get a divorce in British Columbia, you may need to determine what happens to your property and debts. The way you address these issues may affect your life in the long term, which is why your lawyer may help you understand the impact your decisions are going to make.

In Canada, the rules for property and debt division apply both to unmarried couples who have lived together for at least two years in a marriage-like relationship and married couples. After a divorce is filed, if you were married, you have two years to apply to the court for the division of property. If you were in a common-law marriage because of living together for two years or longer, then you have to apply within two years of separating.

Debt can be a major concern after a divorce or separation, but dividing it doesn’t have to be. When you live with a spouse, any debts you take on while living together are shared equally. That means if you take out a student loan for $10,000 when you’re married, your spouse technically should pay $5,000 of that debt upon your separation or divorce.

How can you prevent yourself from having to pay debts your spouse takes on? You can make an agreement when you’re living together to divide those debts unequally, but you both must agree and sign the separation agreement or prenuptial agreement as required. Remember, though, that debt collectors can seek compensation from anyone who signed onto a new debt, whether it was for a loan, home or credit card.


Stuart Zukerman

Stuart Zukerman, a graduate of the University of British Columbia, has over 32 years of experience in litigation with a focus on Family Law, Personal Injury, Wrongful Dismissal claims, and Collaborative Divorce & Mediation. He has extensive trial experience in divorce, child custody, spousal support, asset division, and ICBC injury claims. As an accredited Family Law Mediator, he helps resolve disputes without court intervention. Stuart has also authored papers on family law and lectured at CLE courses.