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Divorce & Family Law This forum is for discussing any of the legal issues involved in your divorce.

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Old 07-01-2010, 03:00 PM
mamabear23 mamabear23 is offline
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Default common law- divorced?

Just a quick question...

I was in an on again/off again relationship. We claimed common law marriage on taxes etc and had three kids. We never lived together for longer than 6 months to a year at a time. Total was probably less than 3 years.

The relationship has been over for years, and we have both moved on. Because we have kids, we often need to provide information about our relationship.

So, my question is...when a common law marriage breaks up, are we considered by law to be divorced? Or just go back to being single??

When a question on a form asks what my "relationship to other parent" is, and the options are:

Single
Common-Law
Married
Separated
Divorced

Which is the most accurate?? None of them seem to fit properly. We weren't single living together, we weren't married so can't be divorced or separated, ???
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Old 07-01-2010, 03:30 PM
NotSoNiceEx NotSoNiceEx is offline
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You are single.
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Old 07-01-2010, 03:37 PM
Mess Mess is offline
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The Ministry of the Attorney General webpage will have information on some of your quesions.

You were not married, and cannot divorce even if you want to.

You were spouses under provincial law, and the Family Law Act applies, but in your case unless you are seeking spousal support it doesn't really affect you much.

You should certainly have a separation agreement written up to cover custody and support of the children, and to confirm that the two of you have settled your split of property. From your description there doesn't sound like much property involved, but you may want to make sure their is no claim out of the blue in the future, like over furniture and appliances or what not. If there is nothing, write that up and sign it.

If you don't have a separation agreement, especially because there are children involved, then I would say to call yourselves "separated" if asked. There isn't really an official designation, but you have some outstanding paperwork. However that's up to you. If you two are settled and happy and gone your separate ways and have no issues, then just say you are single.
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Old 07-05-2010, 12:42 PM
MsD MsD is offline
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"When a question on a form asks what my "relationship to other parent" is, and the options are:

Single
Common-Law
Married
Separated
Divorced"

You cannot be "single" with respect to a relationship, at least not in this context. In other words, You may be single, but are Separated from the other parent.
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Old 07-05-2010, 01:31 PM
mamabear23 mamabear23 is offline
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That is where the confusion sits... I thought "Separation" was a legal term, like "Divorce" and only applied to legally married couples. No?

Basically, I am filling out passport applications for the kids. They are going to visit their paternal grandmother in the US this summer.
Since we are not together anymore, and have no legal documents or proceedings, I wasn't sure what to put there.

I guess I'll just leave that part blank and ask the passport folks when I take in the application. If I remember, I'll post here what they said.

Thanks!
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Old 07-05-2010, 04:45 PM
Mess Mess is offline
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As parents you should have a separation agreement, so there is no problem calling yourself separated. Personally I would only make this distinction while I was negotiating the agreement (which can take years.)

I think annoyance will set in after a few years of it, you will want to call yourself single!! You aren't breaking any laws, the only situation that would crop up officially that I can think of would be if you were taking out a mortgage. In this case you would put single.
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Old 07-05-2010, 10:12 PM
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Rioe Rioe is offline
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This makes me wonder: Are there legal reasons why it would be bad of me to be ticking the 'single' box instead of the 'divorced' box on forms (after the divorce is final, of course)?

It's the feminist (equalitist?) in me, I think, to be considering this. I always put Ms on forms because it's irrelevant to most situations if I am married or not. So by the same token, why should it be relevant after the divorce that I was once married?

So many people are raising so many children in so many circumstances that it's really not that relevant whether or not a parent was once legally married or not.
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Old 07-06-2010, 12:05 AM
MsD MsD is offline
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"So by the same token, why should it be relevant after the divorce that I was once married?"

If there are children involved, in cases of legal documents, the purpose is to establish a relationship with the parties involved. Just like you would choose "colleague" or "friend" for a reference.

Individually, you are single. Taxes, romantic dates, etc.

Had you been married instead common law, you would probably answering "divorced" no issues.
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Old 07-06-2010, 12:24 AM
representingself representingself is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MsD View Post
"When a question on a form asks what my "relationship to other parent" is, and the options are:

Single
Common-Law
Married
Separated
Divorced"

You cannot be "single" with respect to a relationship, at least not in this context. In other words, You may be single, but are Separated from the other parent.
It seems pretty clear to me what the appropriate answer is....
  • "Single" shouldn't even be an option as it does not describe a "relationship"with anyone;
  • You are not currently living "common-law";
  • You are not "married";
  • As you were never married, the answer cannot be "divorced";
The only applicable answer available is Separated.

Which makes perfect sense....you were together... and now you are not...hence the term separated!
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Old 07-06-2010, 02:33 AM
mamabear23 mamabear23 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by representingself View Post
It seems pretty clear to me what the appropriate answer is....
  • "Single" shouldn't even be an option as it does not describe a "relationship"with anyone;
  • You are not currently living "common-law";
  • You are not "married";
  • As you were never married, the answer cannot be "divorced";
The only applicable answer available is Separated.

Which makes perfect sense....you were together... and now you are not...hence the term separated!
This is along the lines that I was thinking...but "Separated" always seemed related to divorce, so I wasn't sure if it applied to common law relationships. Plus saying that I'm separated makes it sound like my breakup with my ex isn't final...which could be awkward for my husband lol
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