Family Law & Common-Law Separation

As a family lawyer, I am consulted nearly every day by someone asking me, “What are my rights when leaving a common-law relationship?” (Read about separation in the context of marriage here!)

Common-law relationships are very common in our society, but most people have no idea how to move forward with a common-law separation. Most people only know what they learned from a TV divorce lawyer or a movie about a custody battle. Read on for an explanation about your property rights upon separation after a common-law relationship.

What does it mean to be Common Law?

Common-law partners are not legally married. They are living together in a marriage-like relationship, sometimes called “cohabiting.” When parties who have cohabited for three years or more, or who have a child together (in the context of a marriage-like relationship of some permanence) may be entitled to seek spousal support.

Can my common-law partner take half my stuff?

The short answer is no! You take your stuff and your partner takes his/her stuff.

The long answer is….in some circumstances, the ownership of the property may not be clear. For example, one party may hold the legal title to a home, but perhaps both parties actually paid for the property and perhaps there was equal sharing of expenses, maintenance, and other work. In that case, even a non-titled party might have a claim to a particular property, despite not being listed on the title. Alternatively, the non-titled party might be able to claim reimbursement for their contributions, both monetary and non-monetary.

What about the kids?

Stay tuned for part two of this post, to learn how a Parenting Agreement can resolve decision-making and parenting time issues in the wake of the breakdown of a common-law relationship.  To book a consultation click here.

This Web site provides general information on legal and related matters and should not be relied upon as legal advice. If you would like to retain COYNE LAW to give you legal advice, please contact London/ST. Thomas Family Lawyer Rebecca Coyne, I would be pleased to discuss whether or not the firm can assist you.