Property Rights in a Common law “Marriage”

One of the most common misconceptions is that if you are living together for a certain number of years, then your partner is entitled to half of your assets. Not so. The property sections of the Family Law Act do not apply to commonlaw relationships. Is this fair? Maybe. It’s just how the law works. If you’re married, for example, then you are entitled to half of the value of the matrimonial home even your spouse owned it outright prior to marriage! (This is subject to a few fudge factors, but it’s the starting point). In a commonlaw relationship, there is no such rule. Your MIGHT have an equitable claim on the home (or other property) based on other factors under the principles of a “Resulting Trust”.

This should tell you that if you are considering living with someone, getting married, or separating, get independent legal advice. If your partner says “oh, we can do this without lawyers”, they’ve probably already gotten legal advice and don’t want you to know what they do. If you never remember another thing I say, remember this: “Get independent legal advice”.