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What is a cohabitation agreement?

What is a cohabitation agreement?
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CLEO (Community Legal Education Ontario / Éducation juridique communautaire Ontario)
Canadian Council of Muslim Women
Family Law Education for Women (FLEW)

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What is a cohabitation agreement?
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August 4, 2016

A cohabitation agreement is a written document that you and your common-law partner can make before or while you are living together. It is a type of domestic contract that says how you will deal with issues while you are together or at the end of your relationship.

For example, your cohabitation agreement can say things like how you and your partner will divide your property and debts if you separate.

If you sign a cohabitation agreement and then later marry your partner, the law says that your agreement automatically becomes a marriage contract.

A cohabitation agreement or a marriage contract cannot say who gets custody or access to any children if you separate. This is because decisions about children must be made at the time you separate or divorce, based on what is in the best interests of the child.

When married people separate, they each have an equal right to live in their matrimonial home. A marriage contract cannot change their equal right to live in the home. So if you have a cohabitation agreement about who can live in a home and you later marry, this part of your agreement might not apply.

This information might not apply if you made your cohabitation agreement outside Ontario. A family law lawyer can explain how the law applies to agreements made outside Ontario.


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