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. 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.

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 that not only is this status not lost, but 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.

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.

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