A Cohabitation Agreement is a legal agreement established between a couple who have chosen to live together.
In some ways, such a couple may be treated like a married couple under the laws of Ontario. However, in some other areas, they are treated differently.
A cohabitation agreement contains clauses for a couple who wants to live together in order to protect themselves from unnecessary costs and litigation in case the cohabitation should not work out.
Ontario Domestic Contracts
Cohabitation Agreements Ontario
Ideally, a cohabitation agreement should be negotiated, prepared and signed before entering into a common law relationship (i.e., before you start living with your partner).
Under the Family Law Act, a common law spouse has no rights to equalization of property, regardless of the length of cohabitation.
However, if a common law spouse can establish an beneficial interest because he or she has made a direct or indirect contribution of money or money’s worth to the other spouse’s property, they may have the right to share in the value of the other spouse’s property.
The agreement allows the individuals concerned to establish in advance who will keep specific assets and how assets that have been purchased jointly during the cohabitation are treated if they then separate. The purpose of a cohabitation agreement is to make clear to both cohabiting spouses, their rights and responsibilities in the event of a future breakdown in the relationship. If you decide to marry in the future and you want most or all of the same terms to apply, your cohabitation agreement can then become your marriage contract. Protect your future by speaking to the Daly Law team about a cohabitation agreement that will be respected by the courts.
If you die without having a will that states what you want to have happen to your property, your property will go to your blood relatives – for instance, your children, your parents or your brothers and sisters. You may intend to share part of your property with your common law spouse. Or the nature of the relationship may be that you do not intend to do so.
To claim part of your property, your common law spouse will have to go to court to prove that he or she helped to “pay” for it by making a contribution of money or money’s worth. This takes time and is expensive. For these reasons, people living in a common law relationship should each have a will that says to whom they want their property to go if one of them dies.
The point is that you and your spouse need to be clear about your intentions. If you are not, you or your family may have to resort to the courts to have the dispute resolved by a judge.
When you get married, your cohabitation agreement becomes your marriage contract. If you both want to change it, you can sign a new agreement.