Cohabitation – A Guide for Forward-Thinking Common Law Couples

Living with another person constitutes as cohabiting. If involved in a relationship with said person, and you have been living together for 3 years (or 1 year with a child), you are now in a common-law relationship. According to Ontario law, being in a common law relationship, regardless of how long you have been living together, does not guarantee an equal split of assets upon separation. In this case, the division of assets can be messy, especially when there is property purchased in both names and various assets that both parties were involved in purchasing.



What is a Cohabitation Agreement?

A cohabitation agreement is an official document that allows individuals to establish specific financial and family agreements for their relationship. Important terms can be stated, such as who will keep specific assets and how assets jointly purchased during the cohabitation are treated if they choose to separate. The purpose is to make rights and responsibilities, in the event of a future breakdown, clear to both cohabiting spouses. A cohabitation agreement offers the same protection that prenuptial agreements or marriage contracts would in the case of marriage. Families often suggest that money passed down through bloodlines is the best way to handle heritage money. They are also extremely useful in cases of purchasing a common-law house, anticipating a long-term relationship void of marriage, and complicated financial histories.

Common-law partners have to rely on the common law to permit them to make a claim against their partner’s assets. Claims in estates and mortgages can often result in little or no earning.



Drafting a Separation Agreement

In order to draft a separation agreement, each partner will require their own family lawyer. Multiple lawyers prevent conflicts on the lawyers’ side and ensure a fair agreement on both of the involved parties. Both individuals must provide full financial disclosure, explaining all debts and assets, to their lawyers for consideration in the agreements. In order to have a fair separation agreement, be upfront with all your assets.

If you want an agreement to be legally binding, you’ll need a lawyer to help draft it. You should have a lawyer commission your will to make it more legally binding.

It is important to read and understand legal documents before signing them. Never sign anything you are unsure about, as you can find yourself in a tougher situation later. Only sign a document you are fully confident and comfortable with, that your lawyer has also reviewed and approved. In order to make any changes to an agreement, you must negotiate a change to the agreement. Any changes must be in writing and signed in front of a witness.

Much like a relationship, a cohabitation agreement is based on trust and mutual understanding. Having a lawyer assist you through the process also empowers you to confidentially ask any questions you might have. Find a Mississauga family lawyer you can trust to support you in case of a common-law relationship. Tailor Law Professional Corporation offers a free phone consultation in which you can speak to a lawyer about your situation. Our family and divorce lawyers in Mississauga can help you get a divorce.

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