Common Law Relationships – The Basics

According to the latest census, the number of common law relationships in Canada continues to surge.

As this trend shows little sign of slowing down, it is important for common law couples to understand their rights, especially if the relationship should end, and seek the advice of a Toronto divorce lawyer.

Those living in common law relationships have significantly different rights and obligations than couples who are married.

In Ontario, individuals in a common law relationship may be entitled to Spousal Support if they have lived together for three years, or have a child together, and are engaged in a relationship of some permanence.

One key difference between married couples and common law couples is the right to property when the relationship ends. People involved in common law relationships do not have the same rights as married couples to a share in the value of property, including the home they live in, unless the property is in both their names.

At the dissolution of a marriage, a married couple is entitled to divide any kind of property that was acquired by either spouse during the marriage (and is still in their possession at the date of separation), equally. Also, any increase in the value of property owned by one spouse at the date of marriage must be shared. The payment that one spouse would owe the other to achieve this sharing is called an equalization of net family property.

If you are in a common law relationship, however you are not entitled to an equalization payment, but may be entitled to a payment from your spouse to pay you back for a direct or indirect contributions to property that the other owns. This is referred to as unjust enrichment.

Common Law Relationships – The Details