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Common Law Spouses

Family law has a lot of different issues and problems individuals need to deal with. Here, you can see which services we can help you with! If you do not see your domain or are unsure, feel free to call us!

What does Conjugal Relationship mean?

          In Canada, a relationship is considered to be conjugal when two people are depending on one another on all levels—financially, socially, emotionally, and physically—when they share home duties and other associated obligations, and when they are faithful to one another.


What is Common Law Marriage in Canada?

          Common Law Marriage is kind of like an upgrade from a conjugal relationship. In Ontario, If two persons have been continually residing together in a conjugal relationship for at least three years, they are deemed, common-law partners. That reduces to just one year if they have a kid together through birth or adoption.

           There is no single legal document that attests to the commitment in either conjugal partner or common-law partnerships; the commitment can occur at any time. Instead, there is a year of cohabitation, the development of intimacy and emotional ties, and the accumulating of other types of evidence, such as designating one another as beneficiaries on insurance policies or estates, joint possession of the property, joint decision-making with consequences for one partner affecting the other, and financial support of one another (joint expenses or sharing of income, etc.). When considered collectively, these data show that a monogamous relationship of some duration, comparable to a married couple, involves a large amount of commitment and mutual dependency.

Judge and Gavel

Spousal and Child Support in Common Law Relationships Explained

           You may be eligible for spousal support if you were in a common law marriage, however, you must satisfy certain criteria, and even then it is not guaranteed. If you were together with your common-law partner for at least 3 years, during which have been continuously cohabitating, you may be eligible for spousal support. 

            Many couples, however, struggle to prove that they satisfy this time-period requirement. This is because either one of both spouses of the common law marriage has chosen to keep their personal real-estate properties or have lived apart for long periods. Thus, the court decided that if the spouses present themselves to have a long-term commitment to each other and have integrated their lives, they will still be considered as cohabitating if they kept their separate residences for employment or children access reasons.  

           The Family Law Act requires parents to provide as much as they can for their dependent children. In the same way, you can be eligible for common law child support if you have a child together with your common-law spouse, by natural means or adopted. The Divorce Act, which is the one that usually calculates the amount required for child support only applies to married couples, and as such does not regulate common law child support amounts.               

              However, it is important to mention that the Family Law Act, which does regulate common law child and spousal support, does use the Child Support Guidelines to calculate support claims. In short, they both use the same grids and outlines and tables, but if you are a common-law spouse looking for your child support, the Divorce Act is not something you should spend your time flipping through. 

             Finally, dear common-law parents, you need to consider that you are also considered the parent of your common-law spouse's children from a previous relationship if those children live with you. Anyone whom the court determines to have acted as a parent or replacing the child’s parent may have to pay child support.

            If you have any questions about your specific situation or if you are unsure about what is the best course of action for you, feel free to contact us at 647-492-4929 or book a free 30-minute consultation to see how lawyers at the Sutton Law office near you can help you with your matter.

Division of Property and Assets in Common Law Relationships Explained 

           As we already figured out, common law relationships are both similar and are polar opposites of married couple laws. According to the Family Law Act, upon the termination of a common-law relationship, all property is given to its respective owner. If they brought the toaster into the relationship, the toaster is theirs when they leave the relationship. This applies to anything from small things, to the big things like investments, pension plans, real estate property, vehicles, etc.  Each partner also gets to keep whatever they earned, purchased or received in the relationship. If you both purchased the item, you can split the value. 

             Now here's the funny part. If your name is on the loan, the debt will be in your name. If both of your names are on the loan, upon separation the bank may choose whichever one is more favorable for them to continue charging the rate. Usually, it's the one that is more well off, as there is a higher chance of getting it all back. Similarly, if you have a credit card that is in your common-law spouse's name, ( or the other way around) the name on the account will be responsible for it, rather than the actual card holder themselves. 

            Of course, all of these are general rules, and there are exceptions. If you have any questions about your specific situation or if you are unsure about what is the best course of action for you, feel free to contact us at 647-492-4929 or book a free 30-minute consultation to see how lawyers at the Sutton Law office near you can help you with your matter.

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Have Any Questions? Looking for Guidance?

Loyally helping clients in GTA and Ottawa areas, including Markham, Brampton, Missisauga, Georgina, Toronto, Oshawa

What is a prenup in Canada?

      A prenup, also known as a prenuptial agreement is an agreement made between partners, prior to marriage. It lists all the properties and debts each individual owns prior to marriage, and their rights to said properties should the marriage end.  It is mostly used to avoid equalization of net family property, details on which you can find by clicking here

       In Canada, many couples choose to have a prenup, and for a good reason. It is a sort of precaution:  the agreement will keep you and your property safe in case of a divorce. 

       It is crucial that Prenuptial agreements are drafted correctly and accurately, as this will be the gareement that you or your spouse might use when going against each other to divorce. In order to protect your assets and properties and make sure that the other is not liable for the debts that your spouse brought into the marriage ( unless that is what is agreed upon), it is highly recommended that you speak to a lawyer. 

      In reality, a lawyer consultation has never been a bad idea, and our family lawyers at Sutton Law are always -willing to help you. Contact us at 647-492-4929 or book a free 30 minute consultation to see how our family lawyers can help you with your matter! 

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