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Many people in Ontario, Canada, assume that marriage is the only legally recognized union. However, common law relationships are just as valid and recognized under the law.

Common law relationships are becoming increasingly common in Ontario, and it is important to understand the rights and responsibilities that come with them.

In this blog post, we will discuss what a common law relationship is, the benefits and drawbacks of being in a common law relationship, and your legal rights as a common law partner.

What is a Common Law Relationship?

A common law relationship is a romantic relationship between two people who live together but are not legally married.

In Ontario, a couple is considered to be living in a common-law relationship if they have cohabitated for at least three years, have a child together, and are in a relationship of some permanence, regardless of the duration of cohabitation.

Alternatively, couples can file a “Declaration of Domestic Partnership” at a designated Service Ontario office to become legally recognized as domestic partners without getting married.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Common Law Relationships

One of the main benefits of a typical law relationship is autonomy. In a common law relationship, couples maintain separate legal statuses and can independently manage their finances and personal decisions.

However, this also means each partner is responsible for their debts and assets, and there are few protections to support the partner with less financial stability.

One significant drawback of common law relationships is that if the relationship ends, the partner with fewer assets may have limited rights to the assets accrued during the relationship. To protect yourselves and your assets, you may consider drafting a cohabitation agreement with the help of a lawyer.

Legal Rights in Common Law Relationships

Despite not being legally married, common law partners are covered by many of the same laws and protections afforded to married partners. For example, common law partners are entitled to share property rights and benefits, such as pensions and insurance, and are also entitled to spousal support if the relationship ends.

In Ontario, the Family Law Act outlines guidelines for determining spousal support in common-law relationships. Common-law partners may also be eligible for immigration sponsorship, tax benefits, and parental rights and obligations.

We Can Help You and Your Family

Understanding the legalities of common law relationships in Ontario, Canada, is essential for those considering or already in such a relationship. While it may seem like a simpler alternative to marriage, a common-law union has many nuances and considerations.

You can ensure your relationship is legally protected and stable by speaking with a lawyer, creating a cohabitation agreement, and understanding your rights and responsibilities as a partner.

If you need help with your family law case, contact the skilled team at Feldstein Family Law Group P.C. by calling (905) 581-7222 or by filling out our online contact form.