GRANT McKENZIE: Breaking up is hard to do

Remember when shacking up was seen as a carefree way to enjoy the benefits of marriage without all the legal hassle?

Remember when shacking up was seen as a carefree way to enjoy the benefits of marriage without all the legal hassle? “If we get sick of each other, we can just walk away,” was the mantra.

Of course, that casual attitude only applied so long as kids didn’t come along, or massive debt, or shared property. If your partner won the lottery and ran away with a younger model, well, at least you didn’t have to file for divorce. And if you were a same-sex couple, it wasn’t until recently that marriage was even a choice.

However, that’s all changing with a modernization of B.C.’s family law known as the Family Law Act.

Like most laws, there is a lot going on under the hood, but basically if you have been living together for two years, you are considered to be spouses and will be treated the same as married couples. This means that any debt or profit you accumulate during the time of the relationship (new student loans, for example) is shared equally if you break up.

Any debts brought into the relationship will remain with the individual, but any increases in debt become shared. The same with profit. If one half of a common-law couple owns a house, for example, that house remains with the individual. If, however, the property increases in value while the couple is living together, the profit becomes shared.

Now, if you’ve ever had a bad breakup that’s ended up in court, you already know that breaking up can be hard to do. This new law, that came into effect on March 18, attempts to lay it out in simpler terms. If you don’t like the idea of a 50/50 split, you can still create your own legal document through a lawyer, which is best handled while you still like each other.

Shacking up can still be a fun, commitment-light approach to starting a life together, but even if you don’t put a ring on it, after two years probation, you’re officially hooked. M

Song stuck in my head

One doesn’t often think of Sweden — home of Abba — as the place to find head-bashing garage punk that makes you want to drop the top on the Jeep and crank up the volume to 11. That all changed with the introduction of The Hives, and now punk girl four-piece Tiger Bell has picked up the mantel with its debut EP Slaughter’s Daughter. The title cut, “Slaughter’s Daughter”, is everything you want in a danceable, dashboard-slapping driving song. Screechy electric guitars, pounding, frenetic drums and lyrics with middle-finger-raised attitude are enough to make you remember what a sunny day and a few moments of downtime are all about. Loosen your tie and give these kick-ass gals a spin.

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