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.

Just Posted

Final key components for Johnson Street Bridge installed this weekend in Victoria

Dynamic Beast crane barge arrives back in town on Friday

Police seek owner of sailboat beached in Oak Bay

Residents reminded to steer clear of the vessel

Wind warning in effect for Greater Victoria

Strong winds could reach up to 80 km/hr along coastal areas

Heavy snowfall closes Mount Washington for the day

Road to ski resort deemed unsafe, “high avalanche danger”

Whisky society commits to charity donation in wake of whisky raids

Refund of Victoria Whiskey Festival tickets won’t impact charity beneficiaries

REPLAY: B.C. this week in video

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

Philadelphia Eagles headed to Super Bowl

After routing the Minnesota Vikings 38-7, they will face Tom Brady and the New England Patriots

VIDEO: Dramatic video shows return of rescued B.C. snowboarders

Two snowboarders were rescued near Rossland, B.C. on Sunday after being lost overnight.

Tom Brady leads Patriots back to Super Bowl, top Jaguars 24-20

New England to face winner of Sunday night’s game between Minnesota and Philadelphia on Feb. 4

Vessel washed ashore in Campbell River during last night’s storm

A vessel appears to have gotten loose and washed to shore on… Continue reading

Liberals quietly tap experts to write new paternity leave rules

Ideas include creating an entirely new leave benefit similar to one that exists in Quebec

Insurers say Canadian weather getting hotter, wetter and weirder

Average number of days with heavy rain or snow across Canada has been outside norm since spring 2013

Final phase of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy trials to kick off in B.C.

Doctors hope to get psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy legalized in Canada and the U.S. by 2021

WHL winning streak ends at four in Kelowna for Victoria

Royals lose 8-4 as Rockets explode offensively

Most Read