How to End a Common-Law Relationship in Canada: Guide for Alberta, Ontario, and B.C.

Table of Contents

Understanding Common-Law Relationships

The Basics

In Canada, a common-law relationship is like an unofficial marriage. You’re living together, sharing your lives, but without that piece of paper. While common law status is defined on a federal level, each province in Canada has its own rules about what counts as a common-law relationship and how the separation takes place.

Different Rules in Different Provinces

Alberta, Ontario, and B.C. each have their own take on common-law relationships, especially when it comes to ending them. Let’s unwrap these differences, and if you’re ever tangled up in the details, remember, we’re here to help, just like we do through our cohabitation agreement service.

Alberta’s Approach to Common-Law Relationships

Provincial Rules in Alberta

In Alberta, the term ‘adult interdependent partnership’ applies to couples who have lived together for three years or have a child together. It’s important to note that the rules for these partnerships are distinct from those for married couples. For a deeper dive into how property is divided when unmarried partners in Alberta decide to part ways, you can refer to the official Alberta government guidelines.

Splitting Up in Alberta

When an adult interdependent partnership in Alberta comes to an end, the process of dividing property can be complex. Unlike married couples, there’s no automatic 50/50 split of assets. Each partner generally keeps what they brought into the relationship, but shared property or debts can complicate matters. It’s crucial for separating couples to understand their rights and responsibilities, which may involve legal agreements, especially when children are involved.

That’s why getting some advice can make a big difference.

Ontario’s Common-Law Relationship Regulations

Ontario’s Legal Framework

Ontario recognizes common-law couples who have cohabited continuously for at least three years, or have a child together. As outlined on Ontario’s official website, these relationships don’t have the same legal property rights as married couples. This means there’s no automatic 50/50 split of property upon separation.

The Process of Separation in Ontario

In Ontario, common-law partners are generally entitled to keep whatever assets are in their names. Shared assets or significant financial contributions to a partner’s property can, however, lead to legal disputes. For common-law couples, the division of property can become a matter of negotiation or legal action, especially if one partner feels they have been unfairly left out.

British Columbia’s Stance on Common-Law Partnerships

B.C.’s Definition and Rules

British Columbia considers couples as common-law after they have lived together in a marriage-like relationship for two years. B.C. is unique in treating common-law relationships almost like marriages in terms of property division. As detailed by the B.C. government, common-law partners have similar rights to married couples when it comes to dividing property and debts.

Ending a Common-Law Relationship in B.C.

When a common-law relationship in B.C. ends, partners have the right to an equal division of shared property and debts, regardless of whose name is on the title or debt. This includes property acquired during the relationship and may include an increase in value of property brought into the relationship. It’s a complex process that often mirrors a traditional divorce, making legal counsel invaluable to navigate the division fairly and accurately.

Ending Common Law Relationships In Canada FAQ’s

How do we handling child custody and support when a common law relationship ends?

Child custody and support are consistent across provinces, prioritizing the child’s best interests. Navigating these issues often requires legal assistance, it’s best to start with a legal mediator or reference your marriage contract.

Do I need legal advice for ending a common law relationship?

It depends on your situation. Legal advice is not mandatory and most simple common law relationships end amicably. When assets, children and spousal support gets involved it’s best to talk with a lawyer to understand what this process is and what the expectations are. Especially if there is no cohab agreement or domestic contract in place.

How is property divided?

In Alberta and Ontario, there’s no automatic right to property division for common-law partners, unlike in B.C. In B.C. common law is treated like marriage and a 50/50 split is the default unless there is a contract such as a cohabitation agreements in place.

How To End Common-Law Relationships In Canada

The journey to ending a common-law relationship in Canada varies significantly across Alberta, Ontario, and B.C. Understanding these nuances is essential for navigating the process effectively. At Angrove Law, we’re dedicated to providing clear, empathetic legal support during these challenging times. For more personalized advice, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

Transparent, Affordable and Friendly Legal Services In Ontario