Some couples who are living in a common law union are unaware of what exactly would happen if they separated. Under the Ontario Family Law Act common law spouses aren't privy to the same rules as their married counterparts are. For instance, legislation in the province doesn't exist when it comes to property sharing for unmarried couples who live together and who separate.
In Ontario, an unmarried couple must have been living together for three or more years to be considered in a common law union under provincial law. The rules that govern domestic relationships can be complex, especially when it comes to the sharing of property for which there are no definitive rules. Much hinges on a couple's personal situation.
The most shrewd move a common law couple can make is to have a cohabitation agreement in place which speaks to these obscure issues. A lawyer will ensure such a document speaks to issues such as ownership and division of property, child and partner support obligations, etc. Such an agreement irons out the rights between a couple that otherwise may not exist in a common law relationship.
An Ontario lawyer experienced in family law would be able to clear up any misconceptions or gray areas that accompany a common law couple separating. The laws can be vague and a lawyer can guide a client through such a separation. A lawyer will also focus on ensuring his or her client's rights are being protected properly based on the client's individual family dynamic.