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How to End Common-law Relationship in Canada

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You must already know that ending a common-law relationship can be a difficult and emotional process.

In Canada, a common-law relationship is defined as a relationship in which two individuals live together in a romantic or conjugal relationship for a minimum of one year or have a child together.

So, it’s much like ending a marriage. Therefore, it can be as complicated as divorce.

Thus, along with emotional aspects, there are many more aspects to address in your common a law divorce.

This blog includes information and tips on how to end the common-law relationship in Canada.

How to End Common-law Relationship in Canada: 5 Things to Do

When a common-law relationship ends, the parties involved may have legal rights and obligations that are similar to those in a marriage.

So, you might have to conduct the 5 following tasks with the help of a lawyer if you are ending a common law relationship.

1. Create a Separation Agreement

In Canada, when a common law couple separates, they can create a separation agreement that outlines how they will divide their assets, establish child custody and access, and address any other issues related to their separation.

A separation agreement is a document that both partners need to sign. And this document is necessary for resolving disputes or conflicts that may arise after the separation.

The key elements that may be included in a separation agreement for a common law divorce in Canada:

  • Division of assets
  • Child custody and access
  • Spousal support

Keep in mind the agreement must be fair and reasonable to both parties. Both partners should obtain independent legal advice before signing the agreement to ensure that their rights and interests are protected.

Once the separation agreement is signed, it can be filed with the court to make it legally binding.

2. Divide Property and Debts

Provincial family law legislation governs property and debt division in a common law divorce.

While the specific rules can vary by province, there are some general principles that apply across the country.

First, it’s important to note that couples do not have the same automatic property rights as married couples in a common-law relationship.

However, many provinces have sanctioned legislation that provides some degree of property division for common law couples. 

Typically, each partner is entitled to a share of the property and debts based on the contributions they made during the relationship, whether financial or non-financial, such as:

  • Caregiving
  • Home maintenance
  • Or other work done or effort given for the benefit of the relationship.

At the end of a common-law relationship, the partners can keep their own property or goods, even if the property had been bought after they had started living together, but those properties won’t be divided.

But if there is anything such as a car or home, or any other property which had been bought by both of the partners as a joint venture, that property can be divided with the help of a legal mediator.

3. Think about Living Arrangement

In a common law divorce in Canada, living arrangements can be complex. Unlike married couples, common law couples do not have the same legal rights to property division.

Therefore, it will affect your living arrangements after separating from your common-law partner.

Regarding living arrangements, common law couples have to work out their own arrangements to divide assets.

And that can include:

  • Who will  live in the family home
  • How will expenses be divided
  • How much time will each partner spend with any children

There has also some rules for common-law partners, if anyone dies without making a proper will another partner will have to face some problems getting his or her right on the dead partner’s personal property. In that case, applying for the property right within four months after the partner’s death with the help of an experienced common law lawyer can help to get the property.

4. Make a Spousal Support

Spousal support helps the receiving partner become self-sufficient. Also, one might get spousal support on a temporary or permanent basis.

However, unlike married couples, common law couples do not have the same legal rights to spousal support.

But some provinces have legislation that allows spousal support for common law partners who have been in a long-term relationship with or without children.

Usually, spousal support in a common law divorce depends on the receiving partner’s needs and the paying partner’s ability to provide support.

While deciding on spousal support, it includes factors like:

  • Length of the relationship
  • Income and earning potential of each partner

Under the Family Maintenance Act, common-law partners can seek a court order for spousal support, if:

  • the partners have registered their common-law relationship with an agency; or
  • they have a child together and they have lived together for at least a year;
  • the partners are in a common-law relationship for at least three years.

Also, you have learned earlier that a relationship can involve each partner’s financial or non-financial contributions.

The amount and duration of spousal support? That will differ based on the circumstances of your case. 

5. Create a Child Support Agreement

Child support is the money the non-custodial parent pays to the parent with primary custody to contribute to the child’s expenses.

In Canada, common law couples who have children and separate are subject to the same laws and rules around child support as married couples.

The first step in any child support agreement is determining who will have primary custody of the child.

The next step is figuring out how much child support the non-custodial parent will pay to the custodial parent.

This amount depends on the following:

  • Income
  • Number of children
  • Province or territory in which the paying parent resides

The Federal Child Support Guidelines set out the basic formula for calculating child support. Nevertheless, each province or territory has its guidelines.

If you and your partner can agree on child support payments, you can simply sign an agreement and submit it to the court for approval.

Final Words

So, you have learned in detail what happens if common law break up with your partner. Well, the separation can be an uncomplicated one or can be a fairly messy one.

However, if you two can’t agree with any of the aspects, you should see an experienced lawyer.

It is important to take legal help to protect your rights and ensure the obligations of common law partners because it will vary depending on the province or territory in which they live.

Frequently Asked Questions

Need more information on common law divorce? Go through the following queries. 

How long is a common-law relationship in Canada?

In Canada, a common-law relationship duration is commonly at least 1 year. However, the exact length of time required to establish a common-law relationship varies in provinces. For example, in Quebec, a couple must live together for at least 1 year, and for 3 years in Manitoba.

What happens if you break up with your common-law partner?

If you break up with your common-law partner in Canada, there may be legal and practical aspects to handle, such as: the right property and debts division, fair spousal support and child support, and so on. And seeking legal advice if you are ending a common-law relationship is important.

What happens if you don't file a common-law divorce?

There is no legal process for obtaining a common-law divorce. Common-law couples are not legally married. So they don’t need to obtain a divorce to end their relationship. Instead, they simply need to separate and divide their property and assets. If they can’t agree on any of that, you have to let the court decide.

What rights does a common-law partner have in Canada?

In Canada, common law partners are not legally married, but they have some legal rights and obligations similar to those of married couples. However, some of the common rights are: property division, spousal support, child support, and pension benefits.

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