We’re not married. What if we can’t agree on what happens to our property and debts after we separate?

3. Go to court

You and your partner still might not agree even with the help of a family law professional. If this is your situation, one of you has to start a family law court case.

Going to court can be a complicated process and it can take a lot of time. It can be stressful and expensive, but it is sometimes necessary to decide your issues.

This family law court process flowchart explains each step in a family law court case. It tells you what happens and what you have to do if you start a court case or if you're responding to a court case your partner started.

A family court decides based on the family law rules and laws. Before deciding about what happens to your property and , a judge looks at things like:

  • whether you have a signed or
  • the facts of your case, such as how long you lived together and what you each contributed to each other's property

If you're only making a claim to your common-law partner's property, you may have to go to a different non-family court. Depending on the facts of your case, you may have to go to a Small Claims Court for example if you are asking for money or property that is worth $35,000 or less.

You can talk to a lawyer who can help you understand what the law says about what you might get if you make a property claim in court. A lawyer can also explain why you might choose to go to court and help you through the process.

If you can't afford to hire a lawyer for your whole case, some lawyers will provide “unbundled” or “limited scope” services. This means you pay them to help you with part of your case.

If you can't afford to hire a lawyer, you may be able to find legal help in other places.

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