J Lo and A-Rod Soar to New Heights: Common-Law Relationships and the Division of Property

Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez must be in it for the long haul - because they just purchased a brand new home together! TMZ reports that their apartment is a whopping $15.3 million - 4,000 square feet, 3 bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms. This beautiful apartment, with spectacular views can be found in the world's tallest residential building, namely 432 Park Avenue, in New York City.

According to People magazine, J Lo and A-Rod have been an item since March 2017. Since then, they've vacationed together, and spent Easter and Christmas together; and now it seems like they're making (some) financial decisions together.

Given J Lo and A-Rod's individual relationship histories, one can't help but be slightly wary of "J-Rod" - J Lo has been married three times and has previously dated A-listers like P-Diddy and Ben Affleck, and A-Rod has had failed relationships with high-profilers like Madonna, Demi Moore, Kate Hudson and Cameron Diaz.

So let's ask the tough question: what happens if this beautiful pairing splits up in the near future? Well, if J Lo and A-Rod were resident in Ontario, they would not be entitled to a division of their family property - and this could really put a damper on their newly purchased apartment.

As per Ontario's Family Law Act, the equal division of family property (commonly referred to as "equalization") only applies to married couples. And so, unlike married couples, each partner in a common law relationship would only be entitled to what he or she brought into the relationship or otherwise acquired during the relationship. They would not be entitled to share in any financial gain that their common-law spouse acquired throughout their relationship.

This rule would also apply to any debts - each party would be solely responsible for any and all debts incurred in their sole name.

As for assets and/or debts held jointly in both parties' names, these would be equally divided between the couple.

The family home would be no exception to the above rules. Like all other assets, it too would belong to the person who purchased it. This means that a common-law spouse does not have an automatic right or entitlement to stay in the family home if it is not in his or her name. If one common-law spouse owns the home, they'd be able to sell or mortgage it without the other spouse's permission.

BUT, all hope is not lost for common-law spouses. Where a common-law partner contributed extensively to the value of a certain asset (one that belongs to their partner), such that it would be unjust for their partner to retain the full value of that specific asset, he/she may make a claim for a constructive trust. To show unjust enrichment, the common-law partner must demonstrate that he/she and their partner were engaged in a joint family venture, and that their partner is retaining a disproportionate share of the profits of that venture. If they're able to establish this, a constructive trust would give the non-title holding partner a beneficiary a right to property in that particular asset.

Courts may also award monetary remedies for unjust enrichment, if one partner can prove that the other is unjustly retaining a disproportionate share of the profits of a joint family venture, and where there is no link between the one partner's contributions and a specific asset or piece of property.

In terms of J-Lo and A-Rod, reports seem to hint that these lovebirds jointly purchased their new home. If this is true, then even if things sour, they'd each get to walk away with their share of the $15.3 million apartment. If not however, well... let's hope it doesn't come to that.

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