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If you’re in a common-law relationship, you’ll need to protect your rights during the relationship and even after it ends. This is especially important since common-law partners don’t have the same protections as married couples under the law, or more specifically, the Family Law Act in Ontario. 

Where married couples can expect benefits as a matter of right, these advantages don’t exist for people in common-law relationships. 

A cohabitation agreement can help protect you and your common-law partner. But, what happens when you want to change or cancel the agreement? Read on and understand the important things you need to know when you void a cohabitation agreement.

What is a Cohabitation Agreement?

A cohabitation agreement is a document that you and your common-law partner can create before or while you’re living under one roof. It’s a legally binding domestic contract that addresses potential issues while you’re together or when you’re at the end of the relationship.

Common-law couples set out terms in advance to protect themselves, with the intention of avoiding the high costs of litigation

A cohabitation agreement is for couples who have chosen to live together, regardless of whether they are in a heterosexual or homosexual relationship. Cohabitation agreements have become more common recently because of modern social views regarding gender and marriage.

The agreement may discuss how you and your partner will separate your property and debts if the relationship ends.

The cohabitation agreement becomes a marriage contract when you decide to marry your common-law partner in the future.

How to Void a Cohabitation Agreement?

In certain circumstances, a court can review and overturn cohabitation and marriage agreements

The court can overturn the domestic agreement if it’s objectively unreasonable or if one of the parties involved entered the agreement through undue influence, duress, or coercion

A court will review cohabitation agreements where they purport to waive child support obligations or deal with child custody (now referred to as decision-making responsibility).

What Happens When You Void a Cohabitation Agreement?

There are several reasons why you might want to void or cancel your cohabitation agreement. One of the reasons can be that you and your common-law partner plan to get married.

In this case, your cohabitation agreement automatically applies as a marriage contract. If you don’t want the cohabitation agreement to apply, you may need to make a new agreement.

Another reason you might want to change your cohabitation agreement is if there’s a change in your finances. Examples of possible changes are the following:

  • One partner receives a large inheritance
  • One partner can’t work because of an illness
  • You and your partner have a child together
  • One partner’s income significantly increases or decreases

It’s recommended to review your cohabitation agreement as your situation changes to see if the agreement is still viable. 

Varying, amending, or changing an agreement is recommended to make sure that it still serves you and your common-law partner well. You can also rescind or cancel your agreement at any time you and your partner want. 

To do this, you can make a new domestic agreement. In the new cohabitation agreement, which is called an addendum or amending agreement,  you can state what parts of the agreement you want to change or cancel.

Benefits of a Cohabitation Agreement

Protection for spouses’ separate property/assets A cohabitation agreement protects the separate property, debt, and income of both parties in a common-law relationship. This can help prevent creditors from having access to the property of both partners. It can also prevent both parties from making claims on each other’s assets. 
Protection for an expected increase in property value/income A cohabitation agreement also protects you if you have an expectation of a significant increase in income.

This can give you and your partner the freedom over how you want to treat your property.

Prevent court-ordered processes dictating division of property A cohabitation agreement can help prevent complex, court-supervised processes. 

There are a lot of complicated rules that common-law partners may have to rely on for the division of property if they separate. 

Rather than going over complex legal hurdles, you and your partner can instead agree on how you want to treat your properties by yourself. 


Did You Know?

Among other things, cohabitation can create rights and legal obligations between partners, including parenting and guardianship of children, child support, partner support, and possibly property division.

To Learn More, Contact Gelman & Associates Today.

Before signing a cohabitation agreement or any other domestic agreement with your partner, you need to seek legal advice. Having a lawyer by your side can help you understand the terms of the agreement and what impact they’ll have on your future.

At Gelman & Associates, we can help you come up with a cohabitation agreement or marriage contract. Our experienced family law lawyers can review and enforce pre-existing agreements for you.

Contact us today to learn how a cohabitation agreement drawn up by lawyers can help protect your rights and assets upon separation

Our phone lines are open Monday to Friday from 8 AM to 8 PM. Call us at (844) 769-0737 or 1-844-769-0737 or contact us online to make an appointment.

FAQs on Voiding a Cohabitation Agreement

Your cohabitation agreement applies as a marriage contract if you marry your common-law partner. But, if you think the agreement will not apply, the document can expire at that time and you may create a new marriage agreement.

Although you don’t need a lawyer to make a cohabitation agreement, a lawyer can help you understand:

  • The rules your agreement needs to follow
  • The claims you can make once your relationship  ends
  • Your rights and responsibilities 
  • How your rights change once you sign the cohabitation agreement

Once a cohabitation agreement is signed by both parties, witnessed, and signed by the witness, it will be upheld by courts.

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