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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 05-22-2012, 08:37 PM
mmcm mmcm is offline
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first some history, I met my now common law partner as my marriage was falling apart, although she had no influence on my marriage ending my ex thinks she was the reason, i understand this and accept it. I kept the matrimonial home and about a year and a half after my divorce my girlfriend moved in. All went well for a few years and then she decided to go back to school and get her degree and is now working in a good job. Over the years the home underwent many renovations and improvements, paid for mostly by myself and my company(i am a self employed tradesman)with her helping pay for some of the smaller bills .The last three years have been nonstop fighting about money and her dictating to me how to handle my ex-wife with regards to my two children. She and her daughter lived here throughout her schooling and now into her employment. She has become very involved in volunteer work for her daughters sports teams ans seemed to make these a priority over or home life. Due to money issues i sold my business and asked her to back off the volunteering until things got back on track but she would not. Her answer was to move into her own place and continue seeing each other on a regular basis. I agreed to this as i can not afford to buy her out of the home which i had 10 years before i met her and it can not be sold till the renovations are finished.
I guess my question is now that she moved out and signed a year lease when does her entitlement to this house decrease, or does it?
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Old 05-22-2012, 09:10 PM
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Well I wish my ex husband could read your post. He is living with our former employee's wife and lots of bad decisions have been instigated by her. With that said I would ask for a bit more information:

How long was your first marriage? How old are your children?
Did you have children with your girlfriend/common law spouse?
Did you file income tax returns with your gf/cls?

I would think the "lease" she signs for her new place proves she does not live with you anymore. I don't believe she has a valid interest in the home. I'm a bit confused - she paid for some improvements to your home while she was living there with you right?

I don't understand why you would have to buy her out of anything. YOU owned the house before she moved in. Does your ex-wife have any claim to the house or did you come to a financial agreement when you divorced? You provided a place for her and her daughter to live. Did she give you any rent at any time? Is the lease for her new rental place or did you have her sign a lease while living with you?
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Old 05-22-2012, 09:27 PM
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If you two are merely common law and not married, then she doesn't have an automatic "half interest" or entitlement in the "matrimonial home". She would have to go the route of proving constructive trust (my terminology may be off here, so do your homework) or something similar, which isn't altogether that easy to go. Other members with more experience and knowledge about this will hopefully chime in.
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Old 05-22-2012, 09:36 PM
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to answer a few of the questions, i was married to first wife for 10 years, my boys are now 15 and 11. No children with common law(thank god i'm fixed) my connom law and i did file as common law after the required time line as ex is an accountant and know the rules. She did help with some expenses during renovations as well as paid a fair share of the house bills and groceries.(which in my mind she would have to do on her own as well just less of it) I paid my ex out during our divorce.
I understand my common law is entitled to half the diffrence in equity of the home from the time she moved in to now. Home has been remortgaged and the diffrence would not be large and after lawyers and such would probebly be nothing.
She signed a one year lease in her new place..
I was told the longer she is away the less she is entitled to.
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Old 05-22-2012, 09:57 PM
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She'll get squat. Let her come up with a huge retainer for a lawyer and try to sue you. Letters will go back and forth between the lawyers.

Get on with your life and heed the lessons learned.
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Old 05-22-2012, 10:03 PM
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There is a difference between being married and being common law when it comes to property. Lots of info on the internet.

People "playing house" are not afforded the same rights as married. Sometimes it's good and sometimes it's not so good. If she give you substantial money for renovations it would be a nice gesture to make arrangements to repay her. "Substantial" is something only you can determine. If she co-signed loans and pledged her own property then she probably has a case but I agree that she would have to sue you in something other than family court.

Good luck! Good thing you were neutered LOL
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Old 05-22-2012, 10:43 PM
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mmcm, where are you located, the laws vary from province to province.

In Ontario a common law spouse has no entitlement to the home or to any share of it's worth.

Anyone living with you, even a friend or a cousin, would have a claim to some value of the house if they paid for significant upgrades to the house or capital repairs. (Capital repairs are repairs or replacements of major appliances, the furnace, roof, etc. that would be expected to last more than 5 years.) If she was just paying for basic maintainence, like the costs of cleaning supplies and gardening, this would not count.

She would be expected to have paid rent, or else saved on her own housing costs. For her and the child, imagine renting a floor of a house, it would be several hundred a month depending on location. So subtract this amount from anything she might claim she paid in.

Paying for half the groceries and half the utilities would be expected, it is not a contribution to you or any kind of profit. You say she paid smaller bills and some groceries, not all of them, so she cannot claim she contributed more than her fair share, or invested in the house.

The only legal issue is one of residence, she would ordinarily have a right to continue living there or to come and go, but now that she has signed a lease, she has forfeited residential status, so you don't need a court order to have her removed. You can legally prevent her from moving back in.

If I were you I would gather all receipts you can, and make a written record of all details or estimates that you can remember. For example if you believe she bought $200 of groceries a month, write this down and total it with any other expenses she contributed, and get it all on paper. Then put it away and ignore it. Have the records if she ever tries to make a claim, but you do not owe her any money for the house and you would do best to simply not bring it up.

If she brings it up, you will have to decide for yourself, but I would not volunteer anything.
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