What is a common law spouse entitled to in Ontario?

When it comes to separation, understanding your legal rights is crucial. The type of union you have with your spouse can significantly impact the rights you have during the separation process. It is important to know that common law spouses do not have the same rights and obligations as married spouses when it comes to property division. The family law lawyers at Simard & Associates can answer your questions about what you’re entitled to whether you’re married or in a common-law partnership.  

The Difference Between Marriage vs Common Law in OntarioQuestions-To-Determine-A-Common-Law-Relationship

Marriage is a formal union that involves a ceremony conducted by a licensed individual, resulting in a legally binding signed contract that requires a formal divorce to end. On the other hand, a common law relationship involves couples living together as if married but without a formal ceremony or signed paperwork, with the nature of the relationship itself defining its status. 

Legal Rights Differ for Married Spouses and Common-Law Couples 

  • Child Custody and Support: Regardless of the type of relationship, if you have children together, the law surrounding parenting and child support remains consistent. Both married and common law couples have equal rights and responsibilities in this regard. 
  • Spousal Support: Spousal support rights can vary based on financial roles within the relationship. In both types of unions, a partner may be entitled to spousal support if they were not the primary financial provider. However, the specifics of these rights can depend on individual circumstances. 
  • Division of Property: In Ontario family law, the significant difference between marriage and common law lies in the division of property. In a traditional marriage, both parties have an equal right to equalize their property upon separation. In contrast, common law couples do not have the same property division rights and will normally not be entitled to the other’s assets unless exceptional circumstances arise. 

Achieving a Fair Settlement Following a Separation


The best way to navigate the complexities of separation and ensure you understand your rights is to have a trustworthy lawyer specializing in family law by your side. Legal counsel can provide valuable guidance, helping you reach a fair settlement tailored to your specific circumstances. 

In the event of a separation, knowing your legal rights is paramount. Whether you are in a common law or married relationship, understanding the distinctions in legal rights is essential for a fair resolution. To receive expert legal guidance during your separation, speak to one of the lawyers specializing in family law in Rockland and serving the Ottawa-area at Simard and Associates. 

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