When it comes to relationships in Ontario, Canada, many people 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 or if they 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, allowing them to become legally recognized as domestic partners without getting married.
Benefits and Drawbacks of Common Law Relationships
One of the main benefits of a common 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 own debts and assets, and there are few protections in place 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. In order 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 the 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 important for those who are considering or already in such a relationship. While it may seem like a simpler alternative to marriage, there are many nuances and considerations that come with a common-law union.
By speaking with a lawyer, creating a cohabitation agreement, and understanding your rights and responsibilities as a partner, you can ensure that your relationship is legally protected and stable.