Can You Have Two Spouses At The Same Time?
Is it possible to have two spouses at the same time? We’re not talking about issues related to bigamy or polygamy. Did you know, that under Canadian law, it is possible to have two spouses at the same time? This article outlines how some individuals find themselves with two spouses. It also covers the troubles associated with having two spouses at the same time.
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Two Spouses At The Same Time
First, you get married. This person is spouse number one. This person will remain your spouse until you get final divorce papers. This is true even if you decide to separate and start living different lives. Until you finalize your divorce with the court, you will remain legally married as spouses.
Second, if while separated from your first spouse you start living with someone new, this person could also become your spouse. Enter spouse number two – your common-law spouse. As you are still married to your first spouse? The creation of the common-law relationship by living with a new partner results in you having two spouses. However, it’s not against the law.
With two spouses, your family law matters can become twice as complicated.
For starters, you could end up having a spousal support obligation to two different people at the same time. Married spouses can bring a claim for spousal support after separation and in Ontario. Common-law spouses that have lived together for three years can bring a claim for spousal support after separation. If you end up separating from the second spouse after three years and are still married to the first spouse, they could both potentially bring a claim against you for spousal support – AT THE SAME TIME!
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However, it doesn’t stop there. If you don’t separate from the second spouse, you can still run into financial difficulty. Items such as insurance plans, pension plans, and estate planning become much more complicated when more than one spouse is involved. Insurance plans and pension plans often only stipulate that you can have one spouse as a beneficiary. So, ensuring that your insurance or pension benefits the correct spouse can be complicated. As well, ensuring that your estate goes to the correct spouse requires careful estate planning. If you don’t take proper precautions your spouses may end up in litigation over these benefits.
Keeping spouse number one and delaying the final steps of your divorce can also (a) prevent you from being able to get remarried to spouse number two; (b) allow your spouse to still claim survivor benefits from any of your pension plans (including the Canada Pension Plan), and (c) they may be able to make a claim against your estate if you pass away or be entitled to a portion of your estate if you haven’t changed your will to reflect that you are separated.
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If you are married and separating, always best not to delay tying up the loose ends and finalizing the divorce. And if it cannot be tied up because you are still in the throes of litigation or negotiations, speak to a family law lawyer about how to ensure your legal affairs are in order when it comes to spouse number two. A family lawyer can help you to hopefully prevent you from having two spousal support payments at the same time or assist in ensuring your financial benefits are going to the right spouse.
Contact ClearWay Law if you have questions about second relationships. Our family lawyers in Ontario and BC are happy to help.
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