Even if you’ve been living together for 3. 10 or 15 years, common-law spouses have no claim to half the property or support payements in the case of separation, or inheritance in the case of death.
In fact, the provisions of family patrimony, the protection of family residences, inheritance, spousal support, loyalty provisions, the civil effects of marriage and civil unions, relief and assistance and the respective responsibilities of household expenses do not apply to unmarried co-habitants.
Unless you have provided for such provisions in a specific co-habitation contract, you are not entitled to the benefits.
In cases where common-law couples have children together, they are subject to the rights and responsibilities of parents, but not spouses.
Social rights, despite no marital rights
The law makes a clear distinction between:
In total, there are 28 laws and 11 regulations under 13 ministries at the provincial level, as well as 68 federal statutes under 20 ministries which recognize the rights and obligations of common-law spouses.
For example, tax laws and the Quebec Pension Act recognize common-law unions and provide provisions that are similar to those of married spouses.
Common-law spouses and social law: a definition open to interpretation
According to both federal and provincial law, the definition of spouses varies from one territory to another.
For that reason, familiarizing yourself with the laws of the various agencies and ministries in your region can help avoid surprises.
You can usually find the information in printed forms or on the websites of the respective agencies.
Among the laws and regulations that recognize common-law spouses, most notable are:
For each of the above-noted laws, it is recommended that you inquire about any restrictions, requirements and rights and obligations of spouses.
For more information:
Quebec's Court of Appeal recently deemed it discriminatory to deprive common-law spouses of the right afforded to married couples when it comes to seeking alimony. The Supreme Court of Canada should take note of the affair in the coming months.
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