When a couple separates or divorces, there are many factors to be assessed. Spending a significant amount of time with a person in a relationship affords you certain rights depending on where you live. Here in Ontario, the Family Law Act governs the principles set out by the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, which addresses the rights of individuals in a family.
Common-law relationships are a recognized type of family structure and the rights of individuals in this type of relationship are protected. Though there may be a stigma attached to an unwed cohabitating couple, it does not minimize the value and significance of such a partnership.
One of the main issues to be addressed in a separation is the financial ramifications and ensuing arrangements. There are two categories that specifically address this factor; alimony and palimony.
Alimony is a type of spousal support. In Ontario it can only be made payable to a spouse. You do not have to be married to be considered a spouse in Ontario, but there are a few other key factors that should be present in your relationship in order for you to qualify for spousal support if you are not in a legally binding marriage contract.
If you are unmarried but in a cohabitating relationship of more than three years consecutively (in a long-term continuous relationship) and have produced a child you can be considered a spouse and enjoy spousal privileges.
A few common factors that are assessed when determining spousal support are:
- Physical health of the couple
- Manner of living (standard of living during the relationship)
Palimony is a form of alimony. It is a financial settlement and arrangement between two people who are not married and are no longer in a relationship. In Ontario, common-law spouses are entitled to palimony unlike neighboring provinces.
Proving the necessity and right for palimony can be challenging. The length of a relationship is one of the most substantive indicators for palimony and other factors like living situations and co-mingling of finances are also issues that are looked at in order to assess the validity of a palimony claim.
The lines can be a bit blurred in the public’s perception when it comes to common-law relationships but the law attempts to guide us through the process.
It is important that you speak with and retain an experienced family law lawyer like those housed at the Zeidman Law Firm. There are many facets of the law that are applicable during separations and as a client you should be made aware of all of your choices.
For example the issue of property rights in Ontario. If you are unmarried, the division of assets is kept to whatever is in your name. If there is property that is jointly owned, it would be shared equally or sold and the proceeds equally divided. In this case it is advisable that during such a relationship that you pay for things that are in your name, for example car and house payments.
At Zeidman Law, we are here to help you through the legal maze that surrounds family law. We are experienced, professional and highly motivated to help you get your just settlements through this challenging period in your life. Call us or visit us online today for a free consultation.