Living Together: 5 considerations to protect yourself

Couple moving in together and discussing how they will manage and work together
  1. In Ontario, you are usually considered common-law if you’ve lived together for 3 years or as soon as you have a child together. In most Federal laws, a common-law relationship is recognized after 1 year.  If you fall into this category – read on!
  2. If you have a child together, and later separate, the same rules apply regarding child support as for married couples. Common-law spouses also have similar rights and responsibilities regarding spousal support as married couples in Ontario.  The legal responsibility to support your spouse applies if you have lived together continuously for 3 years, or are in a relationship of “some permanence” and have a child together.
  3. Only married couples share the value of their property when they separate. But, when two people live together in a common-law relationship their property often becomes intermixed.  If they separate, disagreements arise about what each person will take from the relationship.  If one partner has contributed time or work that helps the other buy or maintain the property, such as a home, this may give rise to a claim for the non-owner spouse.  It gets complicated, fast…
  4. Common-law spouses do not have equal rights to stay in the family home following separation if their name is not on the title. And the spouse who has legal title to the home can sell or re-mortgage without the other’s written permission.
  5. A Cohabitation Agreement is the best way to protect yourself from the uncertainty of separating from a common-law spouse. In it, you and your partner can decide how to arrange finances and how to deal with property, support, and debts if you separate.

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Brian Galbraith

Brian Galbraith is the owner and founder of Galbraith Family Law Professional Corporation. Brian is known in the legal community for his commitment to efficiently practicing family law using technology and streamlining the divorce processes.

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