How is property division done if a common law relationship ends?

The rules for dividing property when common law partners in Ontario split are different from married couples who file for divorce. In the absence of a common law agreement, each partner will own whatever he or she brought into the relationship, along with their individual assets accumulated during their time together. However, bank accounts or assets in both their names will be split equally during property division.
There are two ways in which to handle property that is difficult to divide, such as automobiles. One partner can pay the other half the value of the car and then own it, or the vehicle can be sold and the proceeds split. If one partner buys the other partner’s share, it is important for that other party to note that, if his or her name were on the loan agreement, he or she would remain responsible for payment. Similarly, any debts in both names will continue to be their joint responsibility.

There are exceptions to the rules related to property claims. One partner may request a share of property in the other person’s name if he or she can prove having contributed to it while the other party benefited from those contributions. There are also circumstances in which one party holds title to property belonging to the other partner, but making such claims is extremely challenging.
Common law partners in Ontario who have decided to go their separate ways may consult with experienced divorce lawyers who can assist with drafting a separation agreement to handle the property division process. A seasoned lawyer can explain the time limits to the different types of claims and make sure the claims are filed in the appropriate court, as not all courts can handle family law issues. Couples who are just getting together and wishing to avoid tension in the event of a split can also get legal help with drafting a common law agreement. Source:, “We’re not married. What happens to our property and debts if we separate?“, Accessed on March 3, 2017

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