Are you an intimate but unmarried couple living together and sharing expenses? If yes, then you are considered common-law partners. Are you then familiar with all your rights?
Certain laws such as the Quebec Pension Act, the Automobile Insurance Act, the Taxation Act (Quebec), the Income Tax Act (Federal), the Industrial Accidents and Occupational Diseases Act, etc., consider, under certain conditions, common-law partners being the same as legally married couples.
Legislature has expressly recognized common-law partner situations so that these partners may take advantage of the same benefits (along with potential downsides) that such laws provide for legally married couples.
However, the Civil Code does not recognize common law partners. This means for example that:
A partner is not entitled to an inheritance from the other, even after living together for over 25 years, and having children together
A partner is not entitled to alimony if separation occurs.
Family-owned assets are not recognized because of the union type. If separation occurs, no official rule exists with respect to the sharing of acquired family assets as opposed to enforceable rulings for legally married couples.
Matrimonial clauses, with respect to rights to assets and consequences the event of a separation, do not exist for common-law partners.
The partner that does not officially own the residence has no protection with respect to rights to the residence.
The fact that the Civil Code does not recognize common-law partners may at first seem alarming, but this situation also has certain advantages:
Control over the sharing agreements between partners, without any law imposed on either partner.
Common-law partners are free to create the rules and clauses and that will legally apply in the event of a separation. Rules that will adapt perfectly to their particular family and financial situation: first union, second union, children born from a previous union, specific contributions from partners, etc.
Common-law partners should address these issues and finalize such agreement as soon as possible, at the beginning of their relationship, when they are getting along great. Your notary can advise you and prepare the agreements that will meet your needs: agreement governing relations between partners, wills, agreements concerning ownership, etc.
Clear agreements promote harmony and provide security for partners.
Consult your notary: a trusted source.
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