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Common Law Issues The law regarding common law relationships is different than in cases of divorce. Discuss the issues that affect unmarried couples here.

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Old 12-07-2008, 10:59 AM
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Question Extreemly Stressed

My husband of 13 years (common-law) works outside the home in BC anywhere from 4-8 weeks at a time (home two weeks) and not even 5 minutes after getting off the plane calls me from the cab and says he is ending our relationship (completed unexpected as everything was fine up until that point). We are presently in the midst of building a new home (possession January 16, 2009). We have two pets (one requiring medical care) and no children together. We had sold our first home (which we owned together) in preparation for our new house; however, we are presently living with my parents as our possession dates have changed three times. He claims i should just walk away as we are common-law and that i have no legal rights. I really need to know if this is true? What are my legal rights as far as the house, spousal support etc? FYI we reside in Manitoba.
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Old 12-07-2008, 02:52 PM
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Others here can correct me if I'm wrong but it's my understanding that in cl, what you come in with, inherit during, gifted or buy for yourself (ie not family asset) you leave with. What you purchase together in clr or own jointly is split 50-50 at dissolution (just like in marriage).

Even if the new house etc was solely purchased by one partner, the other partner can still claim a % of it based on constructive trust/unjust enrichment/contribution doctrines.
Do you have any agreements in writing?
When did you sell your first house and was it in joint tenancy (both names on title?)
How long did you live together there and did you buy it during clr?
Where did the money for that sale go? (ie. joint bank account)
Was that money used for the build?
Is your name on the new home, lot, building permit, mortgage, bills/receipts for materials etc?
Have you been supervising the build while he is away?
Have you been employed during clr also?
Has he always worked this schedule? (ie. is it possible he would say you WEREN'T common-law at all)
How did you both file taxes re. marital status?

As far as the animals, if they are with you now, you are stuck with them (unless he asks for them). You can't make him take them and you can't make him pay for vet bills. My ex left me with the 3 dogs (and her duck) - the oldest dog was hers before we met and is very sick. When I asked her to come get it, she refused, when I asked her to pay for upkeep, she refused and said if I don't want it take it to the pound.
I couldn't do that to the poor thing but it showed me a lot about my ex's character for sure.
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Old 12-07-2008, 03:32 PM
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When did you sell your first house and was it in joint tenancy (both names on title?) -yes

How long did you live together there and did you buy it during clr? 13 years - no; he lived there 3 years prior to me moving in and then after i moved (on renewal of the mortgage) he added me to title because he was on Employment and could not requalify; he would have lost the house.

Where did the money for that sale go? (ie. joint bank account) - yes.

Was that money used for the build? Yes. We had to apply for a mortgage for the new house with money down but also had conditions; His car had to be paid off (now i am stuck with my car payment), his credit card, a credit line we had and the existing mortgage from our previous house.

Is your name on the new home, lot, building permit, mortgage, bills/receipts for materials etc? - Yes.

Have you been supervising the build while he is away? - Yes and everything else; always have.

Have you been employed during clr also? - Yes.

Has he always worked this schedule? (ie. is it possible he would say you WEREN'T common-law at all) - No; He has only been working this schedule for the past 2 years since finishing school and getting this job.

How did you both file taxes re. marital status? - Common-law for 13 years.

I have been the sole person running and maintaining our household for our entire relationship; helped through school while he was on Employment Insurance and actually got him the job where he is presently employed. When we were together our incomes matched pretty close to the same; now he makes four times the money; however, regardless we have both invested time and finances into our relationship. I am not asking him for much; just a little to survive. He wants to put our new house on the Market as soon as it is finished and sell it; however, i still need a place to live with two animals and really cannot afford a mortgage payment for a house i am not living in and for a place i need to be living in along with all the extra expenses he wants to leave me hanging with.

As far as the animals go; how fair would it be to them being with him if he is never around! It only make sense they stay with me; but since i am now homeless, i really don't know what i am going to do
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Old 12-07-2008, 07:45 PM
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how are you homeless?? You are staying with your parents for right now and I take it the animals are there with you.
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Old 12-07-2008, 08:16 PM
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Well Hello there Standing in the Sidelines; I am not doing so good ; Its quite a shocker when the love your life and the person you are crazy for puts out such a surprise; Yes, i am at my parents and the animals are with me; they are my familly.
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Old 12-08-2008, 07:45 AM
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I know what it is like. I have been there before. It seems like either the time apart did not help your relationship or wherever he was at he may have started something up with someone else.

Right now this is hitting you like a ton of bricks but it does get better. After my relationship ended it took a while but I got over it and am now married to a wonderful man who treats me like a queen. when I look back I can see the signs that seem so obvious now about my previous marriage. You will eventually see that also.

You are not as bad off as some on the board, in fact other then the emotional side, it looks like you should fare pretty well. Just do not let emotions get in the way. You may want to try and make him hurt by dragging it out but that is a waste of effort. Focus on gettnig what you deserve and making a clean break.
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Old 12-08-2008, 08:24 AM
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The laws about property are complicated. The part of the BC Family Relations Act that says who gets what when a marriage ends doesn’t apply to common-law relationships. If you want to be clear about how your property will be divided if your relationship ends, you can make a written agreement that says what both partners have agreed to about property. It is important to get legal advice if you are considering making a written agreement.

Property includes everything you own, such as the car, furniture, appliances, home, bank accounts, insurance policies, pension benefits, annuities, RRSPs, stocks and bonds, and investments.

Common-law couples can only apply for relief under the provincial Family Relations Act, and the sort of relief they can apply for is, generally speaking, limited to relief involving the care and control of children, child support and spousal support.
All unmarried couples are excluded from the parts of the Family Relations Act that deal with property. Unmarried couples can only divide assets under the law of trusts or, in some cases, under legislation like the Partition of Property Act.

For common-law couples, the division of property comes under what is called the law of trust. It means you may have a right to a part of the property if you contributed to it.

Here are four other important rules about property in a common-law relationship:

1) If your partner has been able to buy a lot of property because of your help, the law says that you may have a right to a share of the property, even though these things do not have your name on them. This situation can occur, for example, if you paid all the rent and food bills so your partner could invest in a business, or if you worked in your partner’s business without getting paid for it.
2) If you contributed money to buy something for yourself, even if it is in your partner’s name, you can ask the judge for your share. For example, if you gave your partner $50 a month to invest for you, and the investment is in your partner’s name, the investment may be yours. You’ll have to prove that it was your money if your partner disagrees with what you say.
3) If you have a written agreement, but your partner will not follow what was agreed, you can take the agreement to court and ask a judge to enforce it — to order your partner to follow the agreement. It is a legal contract.
4) If you or your partner is Aboriginal and you live in a home on reserve with your partner, the partner who is the band member has the legal right to possession of the home. The court may say the owner of the home has to give the partner money to compensate for his or her share of the home.
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