12 Little-Known Facts about Common Law Relationships
Clients seeking out divorce lawyers often ask about when a relationship is considered common law. Check out 12 facts about common law relationships you should know.
- A relationship is considered “common law” when you begin living together in a relationship that is like a marriage. Then it is common law immediately.
- If you are in a common law relationship and separate, you don’t necessarily have any obligation to your former partner. It depends on your circumstances.
- Property accumulated during marriage is automatically equalized but in a common law relationship, you only have a claim to the other person’s property if you assisted in the acquisition, preservation or maintenance of the asset or if you and your partner formed a “joint family venture”. For example, if you helped purchase an asset or improve it, you may have a claim to a portion of your partner’s asset. If your finances were intertwined, you had children together and you were working toward mutual goals, you may have a strong claim.
- Common law claims are complicated and it is difficult to predict the results at Family Court. You are better to negotiate an agreement using the Collaborative Process.
- In a best-case scenario, you may be able to claim 50 per cent interest in your partner’s property, but it could be that you only have a minor interest or none at all.
- If you provided housekeeping or child care services for your partner, it is possible that you deserve an interest in your partner’s assets as you’ve freed up time for him/her to acquire the assets.
- The interest you may acquire in your partner’s assets is based on you having a “constructive trust interest” in his or her assets.
- A constructive trust claim is not automatic. It is “judge-made” law so a judge has to determine the amount of your interest unless you and your spouse agree to it.
- You don’t qualify for spousal support if you lived in a common law relationship for less than 3 years unless you had a child together.
- Child support, custody and access are treated the same regardless of whether you were married or in a common law relationship.
- To prove you should be given an interest in your partner’s assets, you need to substantiate your contribution, whether it’s money contributed, services rendered, or interwined finances and mutual goals.
- If you are entering a common law relationship, it is a good idea to have a cohabitation agreement in place so both of you know in advance how property will be divided should you separate in the future.