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Common Law breakup - no children

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  • Common Law breakup - no children


    I have been with my girlfriend for 10 years, 8 or so living together, which makes us common law.

    We own a townhouse together, completed paid off and we've actually made 50:50 payments.

    We also own an Accord, nearly paid off. Also 50:50 in terms of our contribution.

    We have no children together.

    Our relationship has deteriorated over the past 3 years to the point that she'll trap me for arguments: when I'm in the bath, when I'm sick, right after laser eye surgery when I was imobile on the bed, and at midnight when I desperately need sleep (very often). Her arguments go on for 2, 3, even 4 hours and are mostly (90% to 95%) her speaking and yelling. She's even introduced named calling and bad words. It's very unpleasant. Most of what I say is "Please let me sleep", or "please leave me alone for a while." I go to other rooms for peace and quiet and she follows me. When her arguing doesn't have the desired effect, she sometimes begins kicking things (bedboard, bedpost) or breaking things (lamp, bending my car's antenna (my 11 year old car). She's even repeatedly thumped her head into the wall and window (very weird) which usually follows by her shaking and speaking giberish at which point I have to console her before she does something bad to herself.

    I began falling out of love 3 years ago. We tried counselling until she decided to stop going. I continued for solo sessions.
    I do not look forward to going home most nights and find activities to enjoy. I wind up building up my spirit during the week and get trapped on the weekend by her persistant verbal assaults and become often depressed by Monday.

    I've asked her to break up. She refuses and tells me to get a lawyer. Because this is common law, are we only subject to share what we bought together? What kind of lawyers costs am I looking at and would she have to share?

    Thanks to anyone who can help.

  • #2
    Hi LivingTogetherGuy and welcome to the forums!

    It does sound like it’s time to move on. I’ve got a web site regarding common law situations, see:

    In a common law situation, each person keeps what’s in their name, unless one can prove unjust enrichment. Proving unjust enrichment is actually quite hard to do unless there’s been a fairly long-term relationship and the division of assets is fairly uneven. It involves going through in detail all of each person’s financial contributions throughout the marriage, which is a lengthy process.

    In your case, if the main assets you have as a couple are the house and car, and both of these assets are held jointly, and were contributed to jointly, and there’s no children, you’d each get to keep your share of the house and car. If there’s not much else in the way of assets, it would seem to be difficult to succeed in an unjust enrichment claim. However, to be on the safe side, you should check with a lawyer as to whether you or your partner may have a claim for unjust enrichment.

    There may, however, be other assets you’re not thinking about: for instance, one of you may have a pension through work. For family law purposes, pensions, especially ones for employees of the government and large corporations, can be quite valuable.
    Either one of you would need to buy the other out of the house and car, or if there’s no agreement about that, they’d need to be sold and the proceeds divided.

    There may also be a spousal support issue, but I can’t tell from what you’ve said.
    Ottawa Divorce


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