The definition of a common law spouse varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction but in Ontario is
usually considered to be in accordance with the way a ‘spouse’ is defined under Part III of the
Family Law Act.
Under Part III, spouses (except for married ones) are described as either “people who live
together for three or more years as husband and wife”, or “People who live together in a
relationship of some permanence (and have a natural or adopted child).”
These two alternative types of spouse are normally included in the common perception of a
‘common law’ spouse.
The federal Divorce Act does not apply to common law spouses.
The net effect of the Family Law Act of Ontario is to grant a system of property division to
married people but not to those who are not legally married.
If you are a spouse as defined under the Part III definition above, you may seek both child
support and spousal support.
Spousal support is generally a financial calculation that quantifies the financial prejudice suffered
by a spouse, as a result of the relationship.
Please note: If you are involved in a matrimonial dispute, we
strongly recommend that you retain a lawyer to represent
you at the first possible opportunity;
This site and this note are designed only to acquaint you with a
few (and only a few) of the issues that may affect you.
It is not intended as legal advice on any specific case.
You are well advised to retain the services of an
experienced lawyer as soon as possible.