Common Law Relationships and Co-Habitation Agreements

Experienced Toronto Family Lawyer for Common Law Couples and Cohabitation Agreements

Many couples are choosing to live together without getting married. In Ontario, although “common law” couples do receive some legal protections similar to married couples, there are still significant differences in how the financial assets of a common law couple are treated upon the dissolution of their relationship.

Financial Litigation is a boutique law firm that focuses strictly on the financial elements of family law matters. Eli Karp and his team advise individuals with significant assets about the legal implications of co-habitation and common law relationships.

Why should couples consider a co-habitation agreement?

If a married couple divorces, any assets acquired during the marriage are considered the equal property of both spouses, with each partner having equal entitlement to their value. Common law couples do not benefit from this mandatory equalization of marital property, nor do they have the same rights to spousal support following separation.

A co-habitation agreement allows common law spouses to negotiate an agreement about how their personal and mutual financial assets will be treated in the event that their relationship ends. This is particularly important if one or both of the partners has significant assets or owns their own business or professional corporation.

What can be included in a co-habitation agreement?

Like a prenuptial agreement, or marriage contract, a co-habitation agreement is a legal contract that can address a large number of matters within the relationship, including:

  • Financial obligations during the relationship;
  • Treatment of one partner’s business or professional corporation;
  • Spousal support expectations;
  • How debts and assets will be divided; and
  • Exclusion of certain assets, such as family trusts, inheritance or real estate.

A co-habitation agreement can be signed at any time during the relationship. Couples that choose to get married later on can simply review their co-habitation agreements and make amendments if necessary, and the agreement will be treated like a marriage contract.

Toronto family lawyer offering independent legal advice for common law couples

Financial Litigation offers one-on-one service to clients seeking legal advice about the financial implications of co-habitation. Our lawyers can help draft co-habitation agreements for common law couples that protect their assets and mutual rights in the event of a separation. We advise high-income earners, professionals, business owners and their spouses and help them proactively manage their wealth and protect their assets. To schedule a consultation, call 416-769-4107 x1 or contact us online.