Living Common-Law (Part 3): Legal Rights Related To Property

This post is part III of a series in which we examine some of the basics that common-law couples need to know about their standing before the law. Every province has its own way of governing family relationships. In Ontario, married couples and cohabiting couples have drastically differing rights in a key area: division of property. Savvy, unmarried parties are wise to understand the rules - and to protect their financial interests well in advance of a potential separation.

No Equal Division

No matter how long a non-married couple have lived together in Ontario, the two parties do not enjoy the automatic right to split their assets and debts 50/50 as do their married counterparts. The law does not view cohabiting couples as being involved an equal partnership.

When the relationship ends, each party takes whatever property he or she originally brought into the relationship. Only property that the couple acquired together during the relationship must be shared. In some cases, an individual may attempt to claim a share in an ex-partner's property if he or she contributed significantly to its value during the relationship, but proving this can be complicated.

No Automatic Right To Live In The Home

There's yet another significant impact of living and separating in an unmarried state: No automatic right to continue living in the home that the couple shared during the relationship. Whoever legally owns the property is the one with the right to stay. Same for rental properties: the one whose name is on lease is the one who stays.

No Automatic Inheritance

Unlike married couples, cohabiting parties do not automatically inherit the property of a deceased partner who dies intestate. In the absence of a legally valid will specifically mentioning the surviving partner, the law will divide out the property of the departed to his or her next of kin, as prescribed in the law.

Protecting Financial Interests In A Common-Law Relationship

For cohabiting couples, protecting one's financial interests often means making an arrangement different from the current each-to-one's-own model under the law. Prudent common-law couples do so by consulting with a family law lawyer before drafting a cohabitation agreement.

Living unmarried?

Call us.

Our lawyers can help you protect your rights.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information

shameless self promotion

  • Quinn Ross Takes Office As President Of The Ontario Bar Association

    The Ontario Bar Association (OBA) is pleased to announce Quinn Ross as the 83rd President of the OBA.

    Ross, Managing Partner of The Ross Firm, with offices in Goderich, Kincardine and Stratford, has been an active member in senior roles on the OBA board since 2012.

    Read More

  • Ross Firm Golf Tourney In Support of Huron Women’s Shelter a Swinging Success

    On behalf of the Huron Women’s Shelter and The Ross Firm P.C., we say “THANK YOU” to our many Sponsors and Donators for their outpouring of generosity and support for the annual Take a Swing Against Violence Golf Tournament held at Goderich Sunset Golf Club.

    Read More

  • Who needs a Will? You do!

    Our guests can explain why. Are you single and renting? A new Family? Or Homeowner? Enjoying your Golden Years? We all need a Will and our guest speakers will show you the why and the way.

    Read More

  • Take a Swing Against Violence

    On June 21, 2017, the Huron Women’s Shelter Second Stage Housing and Counselling Services, Board of Directors and The Ross Firm will be hosting the Taking a Swing Against Violence golf tournament at the Goderich Sunset Golf Course.

    Read More

View All

Send Us An Email. Talk To Us. We Can Help.

To schedule a consultation with one of our experienced lawyers, contact The Ross Firm online or give us a call toll free at 888-567-4917.

Contact Us

Goderich Office
144 Courthouse Square
Suite 100
Goderich, ON N7A 1M9

Toll Free: 888-567-4917
Fax: 519-524-8438
Map & Directions

Stratford Office
1 Ontario Street
2nd Floor
Stratford, ON N5A 3G7

Toll Free: 888-567-4917
Fax: 519-814-5533
Map & Directions

Kincardine Office
943 Queen Street
Kincardine, ON N2Z 2Y8

Phone: 226-396-5532
Fax: 226-396-5533
Map & Directions