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Common-Law and Ontario Family Law

Establishing your status as a common-law spouse.

Despite the proliferation of unmarried people in committed relationships in Ontario, it can be challenging to establish whether a common-law union exists. There is no “bright line” test of who is and who is not a common-law spouse. While there are certain rules of thumb regarding common law relationships in Ontario, several variables can complicate a common law separation in Ontario.

This requires a consideration of many factors, including residency arrangements, sexual relationships, financial relationships, the existence of children and the roles assumed – all of which can sometimes result in surprising conclusions as to whether or not two people are or are not spouses.

It should be noted that common perceptions of the legal status of common law relationships in Ontario are often confused with the definition of common law for tax purposes. Pursuant to the Family Law Act, living in a common law relationship is not the same as being married and does not offer the same rights and protections. Navigating all the variables of a common law separation in Ontario can be confusing, and having legal counsel at your side is a smart move.

Over the past 20 years, Toronto family law lawyer Elliot S. Birnboim has argued numerous precedent-setting cases as to who is and is not a common-law spouse for the purpose of Ontario family law. Early advice is critical to ensure this status not lost and that the rights that flow from that relationship are adequately protected.

The law treats common-law spouses differently.

The separation of common-law spouses in Ontario is unlike the breakdown of a marriage. While many of the core issues at stake in a common-law relationship are the same as those in a marriage, issues around the division of assets, estate rights and other matters require careful consideration – and often creative solutions to achieve a just result.

When preparing a common law separation agreement in Ontario, partners are often surprised to learn that their rights are not the same as those of married couples. From division of property to equalization of family property, the rules are different, contrary to common perceptions.

In all family law matters, talking to a lawyer in a one-on-one setting is most effective to understanding your rights. Call us today.

Call us for a free consultation.

Common law separation agreements in Ontario are complex. From establishing whether or not the relationship is indeed considered common law in Ontario to housing rights, family obligations and division of property, professional legal guidance can help avoid unnecessary litigation expenses down the road. As Toronto’s leading team of Family Law and Divorce Lawyers, we will help you navigate your common law separation with confidence, supporting you every step of the way.

To learn more about common law separation or how to navigate a breach of a common law separation agreement in Ontario, get in touch today at 1.800.648.7943 toll-free in Ontario or 416-800-2573 in Toronto for a free, no-obligation consultation. You can also use our online contact form to email us.

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