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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 08-15-2006, 04:12 PM
cautiousone cautiousone is offline
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Default What changes after one year?

Hi, I'm new to this.

My girlfriend and I have just been living together for a couple months now in Ontario, no children and no current plans for children. I have read that we are not considered common law by the province for property sharing for 3 years, but we are considered common law by the federal government after a year. What changes at that one year point?

Also, there is considerable financial difference between us. My assets are somewhere around 70,000 more than hers right now and the gap will likely grow as time passes. Are my assets safe until the 3 year point? (We'll likely get married by then anyways if all goes well in the next couple years).

Thanks for any information and advice you can offer.
Old 08-16-2006, 04:35 PM
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Lindsay Lindsay is offline
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Hi cautiousone,

Welcome to the forums.

You're right. For family law purposes, you and your girlfriend will not be considered common law until you have lived together in a continuous conjucal relationship OR if you have a child together.

I'm really not sure what changes after one year from the government standpoint. My understanding is that on your income tax return, you must provide your common law partner's net income, and that info is used to calculate certain credits.

Even if you lived with your girlfriend for 100 years (but never got married), your assets are yours alone and your debts are yours alone. The same goes for your girlfriend. The only way that your girlfriend could ever gain an interest in your assets would be through an unjust enrichment claim. Please note, however, that she does not have an automatic right to a share in your assets and must prove that you were unjustly enriched by her.

These same rules do not apply, however, if you and your girlfriend get married. Take a look at Jeffrey's paper on property division upon separation of married couples.

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