Living In A Common-Law Relationship
Our family lawyers often get asked how long it takes to be considered Common Law In Ontario. Most people hear that it is either two or three years of living together before they have the same legal status as a married couple. Most people think that if they have a child while living together, they are automatically considered common law. The truth is that these are just general guidelines. More important than how long you have been living together is how you have been living together.
A family judge might deem you to be a common law if you are not legally married, but you act like a married couple. The proper term for people that are common law is “spouses.”
If you have legal issues, do it right and get a family lawyer. At the end of this article, you can see how complicated common law is. The Family Law Act is complex, and judges often rule in different ways.
If you want a legal opinion letter for $150, our top lawyers can help. The lawyer will let you know if they think they are common law or not. Our lawyers can also help you work on a separation agreement. This is normally the first step in a common-law dispute. If the separation agreement can’t be signed between the parties, it’s time for the next steps. These steps might be taking your common-law partner to court. This will mean that a judge can decide what is fair.
Working With Our Family Lawyers
If you are going through a common-law separation, you should speak with a family lawyer. The lawyer can help you with a separation agreement or file something in the court. If your ex filed something, the lawyer can help you respond. Once you hire a lawyer, you want to make sure you are getting proactive updates. You don’t want to be left wondering what is happening with your case. You also need a lawyer that listens to what you want and doesn’t dominate you.
If you need a family lawyer in Ontario, please call us toll-free:
A lot of people hire a lawyer for reassurance from someone who understands the law. When dealing with separation and dividing assets, it can be hard to sleep. Having a legal professional in your corner can help you relax.
In-Person Representation | Common-Law Spouse
Our affordable lawyers mostly work with clients online. We have lawyers in Ottawa and Toronto that can go to court for you (but not in other cities.)
Common-law relationships are sometimes treated as marriages, and other times are not. Sometimes people get spousal support after a break-up, and other times they do not. If you want to watch videos about common law, go to our YouTube.
If you have questions about common law marriage, it’s best to speak to an attorney in your area. Looking for a lawyer in Ontario? You can call us toll-free below. You can also fill out one of our forms. A lawyer will then call you or email you.
A cohabitation agreement is a contract between two parties that are living together in a relationship. Common law does not cover people who are friends who live together. It often covers how expenses are going to be covered. It also covers details surrounding bank accounts and debts.
If you have questions about being common law in Ontario, please call ClearWay Law, your law partners, via the live chat function in the bottom right of the screen.
Most people think that if you live together for a period of time, or if you have a child under any circumstance, you are common law married.
Questions And Answers | Cohabitation Agreement
I have been living with someone for X amount of time, am I common law?
It is never that simple. We are not sure where people get this information.
How does it work at ClearWay Law?
Our lawyers try and keep their clients out of court and settle their matters. If you can come to an agreement on a dispute, it’s normally around $2000. If you have to go to family law court it can be around $25,000. The average person cannot afford that.
I live far away, can I work with your family lawyers?
Our lawyers work with their clients via phone, email, and video conferencing. They can help you if you live in Ontario.
Being common law marriage is mostly the same as being married, but it depends on where you live. It’s normally the same as if you got married in front of a judge. But when common-law couples get “divorced” it’s called separation.
If you are your common-law partner are splitting up, you will need a separation agreement. We can do these agreements at a low cost. Most of the time-division of property is the most important thing that people want out of the separation agreement.
Common-law couples should make it clear if they do not want to be a married couple by signing a cohabitation agreement before moving in together. Things need to be made clear in the domestic agreement about the family home, as most people want to split it 50/50 in the end.
Common-Law In Ontario
Some people don’t believe in marriage but they have been living together for a while, and they want to purchase property together.
The Divorce Act governs divorces in Canada. With common law, the rules can be different from province to province. It is important to speak to a lawyer in the province where you are located if you want a cohabitation agreement.
An example of a provincial difference is that common law is called “adult interdependent partners” in Alberta. People are considered common law after living together for three years or if they have a child while living together.
Spouses must live together for two years in Halifax before they are entitled to spousal support. They are not able to get a percentage of property or vehicles. If they want marriage rights, they must register as a “domestic partnership.”
When Do Most People Reach Out To A Family Lawyer?
A lot of people hear that common law happens at the two-year point; others hear from friends it at the three-year point. Regardless of what you heard, it’s best to speak to a family lawyer if you have concerns.
Normally when someone reaches out to our affordable lawyers, they have lived together a few months less than two years. One of the parties, normally the one who has a bunch of properties, wants to get a common law agreement signed so they can protect their assets.
They normally have had a few discussions with their partner, and the partner has said they are open to signing something. Where things often get awkward is when our top lawyers tell the caller their spouse will need to get independent legal advice (ILA.)
Sometimes people call us wanting a common-law divorce. You can’t get a common law divorce, because if you were married, you would just be getting a regular divorce.
If you have been holding yourself out in the community as a married couple, or you have a relationship that looks like you are married, then you are likely common law.
Common-Law In Ontario | Married Couples
The time requirement is just a guideline. That’s why if you have concerns about getting a common law agreement in place, do it as soon as possible. Don’t start a marriage-like relationship and then wait for a certain date to get the domestic agreement in place.
Some people think 1 year means common law, other’s think it’s 2 or 3 years. We have heard 7 years means common law before. All that one spouse needs to prove is that you had a marriage-like relationship. Then you will likely be found to be common law.
How does one person prove that they have a marriage like agreement? Maybe they share life insurance coverage through an employer. Maybe they file joint tax returns. Did you have children together? There are many ways to do it.
Marriage can be exciting, just make sure to do it correctly. When you break up as a common-law couple, you need something to finalize it. You don’t want to be on the hook for your partner’s future debts or liabilities. You will need a law firm to create a separation agreement for you.
It’s Not As Simple As 50/50
The Supreme court of Canada has said that people that get married have automatic rights to family properly. There is no presumption of 50/50 with common law. There is no such thing as common law marriage, it’s not a marriage.
It’s a common-law partnership. With being married, you either are married or you are not. Common law people often don’t want to commit to the marriage-like relationship.
If you marry and you are a spouse, there is an automatic right to spousal support. There is no right to spousal support with common law unless you lived together in a marriage-like relationship. Things are very complicated with family law.
Lawyers have said it’s not fair that people are together as common law for 20 years and one spouse get’s nothing. If there are two or more people that work together to acquire assets, and one is enriched, and one loses out, there should be a right to equalization payments.
Common-Law Relationships In Ontario
So, when you call us, we can’t say if you are going to get 50/50 or not. No lawyer can tell you what a judge would rule. The person that loses out should receive a percentage, but it might not be 50/50. But it also might end up being 50/50.
If you act as husband and wife, the courts might say there is a joint family venture. So, the courts might treat you as a married couple. If you have questions about common law in Ontario, get a lawyer to help you. Don’t risk it.
Common law relationships can be complicated. Unlike married spouses, spouses in a common-law relationship do not have any statutory property rights. Therefore, what this means is that common-law spouses do not have automatic rights. Also, this applies to a division of property outlined in legislation.
Did you and your common-law spouse separate? Their property rights will be determined in accordance with the ownership of the property. Spouses are entitled to retain all property that is in their sole name. Further, they might be entitled and any property that is held jointly will be divided proportionately to the ownership share held by each spouse.
Unjust Enrichment | Constructive Trust
Family law can be complicated. Do you know about unjust enrichment? How about a constructive trust? Speak to a lawyer to get legal advice.
However, the division of property for common-law relationships does not end there. If one spouse is of the opinion that the other spouse has received property as a result of their contributions and that division according to ownership only results in an unfair division of the property, they can apply to the court for an adjustment to the division under trust principles. Upon application, the court will determine whether the property should be divided. This is based on if the non-owning spouse should receive a portion of the property.
Typically, the division of property for common law spouses will be addressed through the trust principle of unjust enrichment. To establish an unjust enrichment claim, the applicant must show:
a) Enrichment of the other spouse;
b) Deprivation suffered by the applicant (monetary or otherwise), and
c) There is no legal reason for the enrichment.