1. Agree on how to deal with your property and debts

We're not married. What if we agree on what happens to our property and debts after we separate?
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1. Agree on how to deal with your property and debts

Because common-law partners have different rights to property than married partners, you and your partner need to agree on:

  • how to divide jointly owned assets and debts
  • if you should share each other's assets and debts; and
  • how to share in each other's assets and debts

You can talk to your partner on your own, with the help of someone you both trust, or with the help of a lawyer or mediator.

As part of this process, you and your partner need to give complete and honest information about your financial situation. This is called financial disclosure.

The law lets you and your partner make a separation agreement about what should happen to your property and debts. You can make a separation agreement any time after you separate.

Since common-law partners don't automatically have to pay an equalization payment at the end of their relationship, they need to show why they have a right to a share of their partner'€™s property. This can be very hard.

Some people divide property by applying the rules of a cohabitation agreement that they signed before they separated. These types of agreements can say whether you and your partner want to divide your property and debts.

Some of the things you may want to think about including in your separation agreement are:

  • what property and debts were considered in reaching an agreement
  • how to divide jointly owned property
  • how to divide jointly owned debts
  • who stays in the home

If you agree that one of you pays the other as a way to divide property, you also need to agree on how this amount will be paid. For example, if you agree that you owe your partner $5,000, you might agree to pay this amount by cheque to your partner. Or, you might agree to sell your jointly owned home and divide the proceeds of sale so that your partner gets an extra $5,000 from your half. You might also be able to pay your partner from your pension.

If you or your partner decides to move out of your home, you have to decide:

  • what day to move
  • what you can take with you
  • where to go
  • whether your children will move with you

Talking to your partner may not be the best option where there is a history of partner abuse.

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Law Society of Ontario (LSO)
Reviewed: March 1, 2021

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