Common Law Common Law

If you live with someone without being married, you are in a common law relationship or are cohabiting.

In Ontario, common law couples do not have the same rights as married couples to share the property they got when they were living together.  Usually, furniture, household belongings and other property belong to the person who bought them.  Common law couples also do not have the automatic right to divide between them the increase in value of the property they brought with them to the relationship or bought during the relationship.

If you have contributed to property your spouse owns, you may have a right to ownership of part of it or to be paid for part of it.  Unless you and your spouse reach an agreement about this, you may have to go to court to have this claim determined.

If your common law relationship ends, and you do not have enough money to support yourself, you can ask your spouse to pay support if you have been living together for three years, or if you have lived together for less than three years and have had or adopted a child together.  You and your spouse can settle on an amount for support.  If you can’t resolve this, you can go to court and ask a judge to decide if you should get support and the amount of support.

If you and your spouse have or adopt a child together, you can ask for support for that child. Children of parents living in a common law relationship have the same rights to support from their parents as the children of married couples.  If your spouse treated your child from a previous relationship as his or her child while you lived together, you can also ask for support for that child.  You can settle on support for your child by reaching an agreement.  If you can’t resolve the issues, you can go to court and ask a judge to order your spouse to pay support for that child.  The amount of support is set under the Child Support Guidelines.

As part of a support order for you and/or your child, you may also ask to stay in the home you shared when you lived together.  The judge can order this even if you do not own the home, or if your name is not on the lease.  This is different than for married couples.  Married couples automatically have an equal right to stay in the home.

Same Sex Couples
The same laws apply to same sex common law relationships as heterosexual ones.

How Can We Help You?

We can work with you to settle any property and support issues you have with your common law spouse.  If we are unable to reach an agreement then we can represent you and your interests in a court action.


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