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Complex Common-Law Situation....

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  • Complex Common-Law Situation....

    We dated for 7 years and have been common-law for 9. The first 4 years was at her in-laws place. Then we bought a home together (title in both names) where she contributed $40K ($25K was from HomeBuyers Plan RSP) down payment. I put in $200K. Ever since I have paid most of the bills (mortgage, property taxes, hydro, propane, insurance). 5 years have passed and she decided to split (met a guy on the Internet). She packed a bag and left, and I invited her back to stay as “just friends” and prepare house for sale, etc..... She is likely to leave again shortly.


    1) She barely contributes to anything. She makes about $15K a year. Household expenses are about $88K a year including mortgage. What might she be entitled too when it comes to the equity in the home and any appreciation at sale?

    2) Does she have any rights to my RSP or LiRA? Both are substantial ($375K / $150K)

    3) Doe she have any rights to any money from my business? I have $375K in a holding company I own but she has some class B shares so that I could give her dividends each year ($80K/$80K/$23K/$23K/$23K) from 2015-19 which were lowered to $23K due to TOSI changes. Some of the dividend money helped paid expenses like mortgage, taxes, insurance, other bills.

    4) Could spousal support be an issue? She has had the same job before we met, while we were dating, during our living together and now after. I made about $100K a year when we met, then had some down years, then when we started living common-law made a big sum of money (almost $1.8M) between 2012 and 2019. Made $0 this year due to Covid.


  • #2
    As always, get a good family law lawyer to assist you. My hunch on the questions....

    -if the house is in BOTH your names then I suspect you BOTH own it and so she is entitled to 50% of the value. Perhaps you could negotiate a better deal with her but I suspect equal title equals same right of ownership. Did you have any kind of a written agreement drawn up regarding house ownership ?

    -after 3 years of common law then spousal support applies same as if married. Spousal suppport is a tricky area though. On the good side it doesn't seem like she "gave up" any career or cash to live with you. On the downside she is "used" to a higher standard of living. You might be on the hook for half the time together co-habitating (4.5 years ?). See for further info

    -since you're not married no automatic right to "equalization" of assets. She would have to prove "unjust enrichment" (ie. she somehow helped in the acquisition/purchase/maintenance) of an asset which doesn't seem to be likely in your case.

    -if you've "gifted" her shares I don't think you can take them back. Perhaps you can just stop paying dividends on them ? See lawyer or accountant or try negotiating.

    Best advise, get a good lawyer asap !


    • #3
      You can advance trust claims so the home is not divided 50/50, but proportionate to contribution. Get a lawyer.


      • #4
        Originally posted by Kinso View Post
        You can advance trust claims so the home is not divided 50/50, but proportionate to contribution. Get a lawyer.
        I agree 100%.


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