Moving in with someone can bring about legal obligations and consequences that neither you nor your partner planned, or probably even thought about when you moved in together. Many people assume that the law is the same for common law couples as it is for married couples. In Ontario, that is definitely not the case. Its important to know your rights and what living common law could mean for you. When you start living with someone, legal rights can be triggered regarding spousal support, resulting in an obligation for you to pay support to your partner if you break up. In addition, your common law partner could, in time, become entitled to a share of the value of your property – including your home, your pension and your business.
A Cohabitation Agreement can help to protect your property by setting out the terms that you and your partner agree would be fair for dividing your property and debts if you separate. The Cohabitation Agreement can also include terms saying whether or not spousal support might be owing at the end of the relationship. If you agree that spousal support might be appropriate, you can agree on limits to the amount of support payable and for how long. If you and your partner agree, the Cohabitation Agreement can remain in effect if you decide to get married or the Agreement can expire at that time.
A well-drafted Cohabitation Agreement can help to ensure that both you and your partner are treated fairly whether your relationship ends after only a few years together or a lifetime.