10 Things To Consider Before Cohabitations

Moving in with your partner is a major step that shows how serious the relationship is getting. Many couples wait until marriage, while others use living together as a test run to see if marriage is viable. Consider the following ten points that our employment lawyers in Mississauga have put together for you.

  1. What are your long term relationship goals?

By planning on moving in with a partner, are you looking for marriage in the foreseeable future, distant future, or at all? It is important to be on the same page in terms of where the relationship is, and where it is going, before you/they move in. Once you start living together, everything becomes shared, and in the case of a breakup, things can get messy in terms of ownership. One of the worst situations you can find yourself in is moving in fully with someone, then finding out that they don’t believe in marriage, when you were strongly hoping for that outcome, and being stuck in a relationship you no longer want.

  1. What if One of us Dies?

If one of you passes away while cohabiting, without an established will or cohabitation agreement, the other partner is not entitled to any of their property. If the deceased has any blood relatives, the items become theirs, including the property if they were the sole name on the property. Having a will and cohabitation agreement in place can save time later on in the event of one’s death. You can’t get a joint will, but two separate wills that list each other as beneficiaries will suffice.

  1. Can we file taxes together? List each other on insurance?

Couples who cohabit have many similar rights to married couples in terms of taxes, pensions, insurance and other various benefits. Talk to a financial adviser, or your insurance company, about how you can set up your partner to be a beneficiary, or file your taxes together.

  1. Owner of the Household?

Whose name is on the property ownership? Will the other partner be paying any sort of rent/lease/amenities? In the case of a separation, when it comes to property, it belongs to  whoever’s name is on the ownership. In the case of a joint ownership and separation, the property can be sold and divided between both parties, or if an agreement can be made, one partner can reside within it. If you have invested money into the property over time, there is a chance you could litigate it for funds.

  1. Who will own the furniture/kitchen supplies/items we bought together?

There are no specific laws that govern how property should be divided between cohabitees or those in a common law relationship. It is up to the 2 parties to decide who gets what, depending on who purchased each item. For items purchased jointly, they can either be liquidated and sold, or parties can decide who wants to keep them. The law can potentially assist in disputes, but that would be solved through civil litigation. If the assets in question equate to a value less than $10,000, a paralegal may be able to assist you.

  1. Banking?

You and your partner are able to open a joint bank account together without being officially cohabiting or common-law. To open a joint bank account with your partner, go to your local bank. A joint bank account is a way to save money with your partner and get a feel for their responsibility. In the case of overdrafts on the accounts, both of you will be responsible for paying the debt owed. The account is a great way to plan for a big event in your relationship.

  1. Money?

After 3 years of cohabitation in Ontario, you and your partner are considered to be common-law spouses (1 year if a child is involved), meaning that in the case of a separation, there may be obligation to pay spousal support. A cohabitation agreement is a document that outlines spousal support for couples who live together. Having conversations about money when making large decisions is not only a healthy part of any relationship, but necessary. Discussing incomes, bill paying and savings accounts can help couples build a plan for the future.

  1. Children?

Adding a child to any relationship requires a lot of long-term planning and careful consideration. If you are cohabiting with a partner and have a child, you may need to move for better schooling or daycare. Moving then brings up questions about the name on the property and potentially changing your rent/amenity payment arrangement. In the case of separation, the court would treat it as a divorce and custody and access become major factors.

  1. Debt?

Make sure both partner’s names are on any loan for large purchases or investments. If you and your spouse separate, the loan will remain in whoever’s name was on the loan at the beginning. It is important to be honest about debt with your partner.

  1. If we break up, will I need to worry about anything legally when I move on?

Cohabitation is not as binding as marriage, but there are still laws and clauses you could run into throughout living together. Ensuring that a cohabitation agreement is in place ahead of time will also prevent future litigation. It’s never too late to set one up, and can be really useful in showing how serious a relationship is. Meet with a lawyer today to discuss how you can set a cohabitation agreement up, and discuss the many added benefits of being proactive in your relationship.

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