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Matters to address when cohabitating couple splits

The end of any relationship is usually difficult. This is particularly true when, regardless of whether a marriage is involved, a couple has created a home together. While a cohabitating couple that decides to call it quits does not have to go through a divorce, it is possible many of the same issues–such as the division of property, child support and “spousal” support–will need to be addressed. The approach taken to resolve many of these matters is not the same as in a divorce, however. 

Where property is concerned, if one individual contributed to something the other owns, it may be possible to get a portion of that property. Otherwise, a person is entitled to the things he or she brought to the relationship as well as what they themselves purchased in the course of the relationship. 

Spousal support might also be available to a common law spouse when the marriage ends. For this to be a possibility, one of the individuals must not have enough income to support him or herself. In addition, the couple must have lived together for at least three years. This support could possibly be secured in situations where the couple lived together for less than three years but had, or adopted, a child together.

When children were produced in the course of the relationship, one parent may seek child support from the other. In this particular situation the way in which the payment is established is the same it is for those who were married, via the application of Child Support Guidelines. The amount of child support could be determined multiple ways including arbitration, collaborative law, mediation, negotiation and litigation. In some situations a parent may be able to secure child support for a child who is not the other person’s. This could happen if the other individual treated that child as though he or she was his or her child.

A parent who secures child support from his or her common law spouse might also be able to remain the in home the couple shared while together.

As is the case in a divorce, when a common law couple splits the matters that need to be addressed can be complicated. When a cohabitation agreement is not place, a lawyer can be of assistance in working through them.

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