Do You Need a Cohabitation Agreement?

Although in many cases the question of when you are considered to be married at common law depends on the circumstances, in Ontario, you are considered to be in a common law relationship if you and your partner have lived together for 3 years, or have a child and a relationship of some permanence.

What most people in a common law relationship don’t realize is that they do not have the same built in protections as married couples when it comes to asset division upon the termination of their relationship.The biggest misconception people have about cohabitation is that the property they live in will be split equally if the relationship ends. This is not true. The rule of 50/50 asset division applies only to married couples. If you are in a common law relationship with all of the assets, including the home, in the other spouse’s name, the only way you might succeed in claiming an interest in these assets is through a very expensive court case.

So, if you are planning to move in with a partner—or are already living together—be sure to have a cohabitation agreement in place laying out the terms for division of your assets and spousal support in case your common-law relationship comes to an end.