In Ontario, for the purposes of support obligations you are thought to be in a common law relationship if you have been living jointly as a couple for three years, or of some permanence if a child is conceived from the relationship. Family law issues related to common law relationships can be complex and have increased over the years due to many couples postponing marriage. Many couples may not know their rights and obligations as a common law spouse. Typically, the longer the relationship, the more the spouses merge their economic and non-economic lives, the more each spouse make decisions to mould their skills, behaviour and finances around those of the other spouse, and the more complex the support obligation issues.
With respect to property, common law spouses do not have equal rights as married spouses and in order for a common law spouse to be successful in their claim against the other spouse’s property, the spouse must establish that there has been a “joint family venture”. Once a “joint family venture” is established, the spouse may have to establish that it is due to both spouses joint efforts that one spouse remained with a disproportionate share of property.
Examples of imbalance are where one common law spouse contributed more towards the payments of a property, spent a considerable amount of time improving a property or business without compensation, or did other work disproportionately that contributed to the increase in the couple’s assets. It is important that this work or imbalance be clearly demonstrable and that there be some evidence to support the imbalance.
Tsinman Law can assist you in determining reasonable and sensible compensation for what you provided for during the relationship and ensure that you are dealt with genuinely under the law. Our team of lawyers will assess the circumstances of the relationship before its breakdown, including the length of the relationship, jointly owned assets or properties, and provide you with an opinion on potential obligations or entitlements. This can help inform you on action to take to reaching an effective resolution in your family law matter.