In Ontario common law spouses do not have the same legal rights and obligations that legally married spouses do.
Legally married spouses share in family assets. That would be any assets acquired during the marriage aside from gifts and inheritances. They share in the increase in value of any assets brought into the marriage. The share in the value of the matrimonial home no matter when it was acquired.
Common law spouses don't have these same rights. To some extent the court would look at contributions and if you didn't contribute to the value of assets in your common law spouse's name you may not be entitled to share in their value if your relationship ends. And that is whether it ends because it has broken down or at death.
If your common law relationship goes on for a very long time then in those cases courts have now said that the relationship is considered to be what is called a joint family venture and then you may be said to have contributed to the value of the assets even though not financially.
Common law spouses do not share in private pensions. They do share in the credits earned during the relationship for CPP.
There is no doubt that as far as division of assets and for estate purposes you are not as secure if you are common law spouses unless you have a cohabitation agreement that gives you the security.
If your common law spouse dies and doesn't have a Will you don't inherit. If your common law spouse dies and leaves you nothing if the relationship was relatively short you will not inherit.
Does that help as a starting point?
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