Separation agreement and dating


Common Law Separation in Canada

A common law relationship is defined as two people who live together in a committed “marriage-like” relationship. According to recent Canadian census, common law relationships are quickly on the rise in our country. Despite the spike in this type of relationship, the rights of people living together outside of a marriage are still quite misunderstood. In fact, many people incorrectly believe that a common law couple is entitled to the same rights as a married couple, but this is most often not true. The exact laws of a common law marriage, and even the criteria needed to qualify as one, vary by province or territory across Canada.

To be considered in a “common law marriage”, a couple must live together for a specific period of time as outlined by the provincial legislation of they province they reside in.

The following table breaks out the different criteria for each Canadian province:

The basic laws when a common law couples separates are as follows:

Each person gets to keep what belongs to them and each person is responsible for the payment of their own debts. If an asset is in both names, then the value of that asset is to be equally divided and the couple can decide how to complete this division. It can be handled by one partner “buying” the other out, or the asset can be sold with the proceeds of sale being equally divided. In the event that these laws result in an unfair division, then a partner will need to make a claim to the courts citing “unjust enrichment”.

Unjust enrichment: This is when one person unfairly benefits at another’s expense. If unjust enrichment is successfully proven to the courts then the party that was unjustly enriched will be ordered to make reasonable restitution of the property, services or benefits that they unfairly received and retained.

Laws regarding child custody, access and support are the same in Canada regardless of whether or not a child’s parents were legally married. For the full details on this very important topic please visit our child custody page.

Since the laws surrounding separation in common law relationship can be vague, and vary depending on the province you reside in and whether the issues being discussed are covered by provincial or federal law, the best way to ensure you are getting the most accurate advice is to retain legal representation. A lawyer that specializes in family law, and specifically common law spouses, will be able to properly answer your questions, address your concerns and ensure that all of your rights are properly protected.

Can I not pay child support in Canada? 1 Reply

Hi, I’m a 17 years old guy and I accidently got my ex-girlfriend pregnant (if she is not lying). The problem is, we are not dating anymore and I cannot pay the child support. I don’t even work and my parents would probably kill me. So I spoke to her yesterday and she said: “Don’t […]

Posted in Divorce, Location, Ontario, Toronto Downtown Core by Questions on May 1, 2016

My spouse has been deliberately under-reporting income over the last few years in preparation for a divorce. How can I prove this, as my spouse does not want to pay spousal support?

Posted in Children, Location, Ontario, Scarborough by Questions on April 29, 2016

My ex stopped his child support cheque (it bounced). His lawyer is demanding (unreasonable) information about child and stopped the payments to extort that information. According to our separation agreement, my ex has to keep paying even if there are disagreements (there is conflict resolution process for it). How can I enforce the separation agreement?

Faced With Separation? Get Great Marriage-Saving Tips and Advice in My Free Newsletter Series!

Welcome to my Save My Marriage Today Newsletter Series! If you are looking for effective, powerful tips and techniques to save your marriage from the verge of divorce and rebuild the love that you both once had - even if your partner doesn't want to - then read on!

co-author of Save My Marriage Today!

By Andrew Rusbatch

It's a cliché because it's true: sometimes some time apart can save a marriage. It seems counterintuitive, but trial separation can actually be a really proactive step toward healing and saving a troubled marriage.

The most important thing you can do for a relationship is to know when the stress and anxiety of everyday life together is getting in the way of communication, happiness, or even your ability to cope. Time apart can help you to regain perspective and allow what time you do have together to be honest, productive, and constructive.

The dynamic of a relationship can change in many ways over the years, and when it changes, perception can become so clouded, and so much stress can result, that time apart can be the only way to save the relationship. Profound life changes can result from a major illness in the family, a career loss or change, or when either of these things creates profound financial stress.

Sometimes it's good to figure these things out for yourself, and in the face of the kind of confusion these feelings can create, distance might be the best medicine.

Separating for a prearranged period of time can give perspective on the reasons you fell in love with your spouse to begin with, remind you that you feel happier and more fulfilled when you're together, and let you remember the good times without being reminded of the difficulties on a daily basis.

In order for a trial separation to work, you both need to be very clear about what it involves and what expectations you place on each other during the separation period. You also need to both be very clear about what you hope to achieve from this separation agreement.

Is this a trial, is it simply giving him some space, or is this a prelude to divorce? You need to be very clear what this is and how you both expect to go about it.

You need to be able to sit down and discuss the issues, the point in having a temporary separation and/or a formal agreement, what goals you expect to achieve, how you are going to reach these goals, how often you are going to maintain contact, and what expectations you are going to place on each other regarding dating others, sex, and how you are going to monitor if you are making progress in rebuilding your marriage.

It is about much more than simply shifting out to give each other space. Doing this without discussing how you move forward from this is in fact a step backwards and works against you saving your marriage.

The most difficult part of this process is deciding when things are dire enough that a trial separation would be the best thing for the marriage and do more potential good than harm. Each couple will come to this realization at different times and after differing levels of crisis and stress. Generally, however, there are a few

points in a relationship that will signal that a separation is best for most couples.

If you are constantly preoccupied with the thought of leaving, this is no small fantasy. This is a major red flag, and certainly a time when a trial separation should be seriously considered. But let's think about why you're preoccupied with leaving.

Certainly these thoughts would occur regularly is the bad times outnumbered the good. This is also a red flag and a good time to rethink things. When there is more pain and sadness than happiness, then there is little reason to stay. A major personal reinvention is in order.

Also, when the same serious issues come up in arguments and they never seem to resolve themselves. This may be a time when distance can provide perspective and a little bit of time for personal reflection.

But remember, a trial separation is a serious, last ditch effort to affect change in a relationship. It is not to be taken lightly, as a separation can remind you of the good times and bring you back together with your spouse, but it can also - and perhaps more easily - show you that a divorce is the best route to take.

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Yours in marriage success!

co-author of Save My Marriage Today!

The "Save My Marriage Today" course is a comprehensive collection of marriage rebuilding tools designed to assist troubled couples in turning around the negative patterns of behavior that exist in their marriages.

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