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bypassing the formalities

Customs change. Nowadays, many couples decide to live together without getting married.

Uncertainty as to one's choice of partner, disillusionment stemming from a previous marriage and outright refusal to make a commitment are but some of the reasons for the increasing number of unmarried couples living together.

If you are among them, you may be wondering about the legal aspects of your situation.

One thing you should know is that whether you and your partner have lived together 3, 5 or even 20 years, you will not be granted the same legal status as a married person.

I have heard that...

Despite what you may have heard, the following statements are false.

False: The property bought by my common-law spouse will be split half and half in the event of separation.

False: If we have a child together, we must adopt it.

False: Should my common-law spouse die, all assets automatically revert to me.

These are but a few of the mistaken assumptions made by common-law partners.

My home, your home or our home ?

Remember that the rights to protection of a family residence and to the obligatory division of family assets are granted only to legally married couples.

A common-law spouse who is the sole owner of a shared residence may sell or mortgage (hypothecate) it without the consent of the other partner.

Whenever a couple stops living together, the registered owner of the home keeps it for himself and may even sell it alone without splitting the proceeds of the sale with his former common-law partner.

If you plan to buy a home, why not do so under a co-ownership agreement (i,e, with both your names as purchasers in the deed ) ?

That way, over the years, both partners will benefit from the increased value of the home purchased jointly.

Children: equal before the law

Children born of a common-law marriage have the same rights and obligations as children from a legal marriage.

Therefore, there is no need for parents to adopt such children if they have acknowledged them as their own in the children's acts of birth.

The child may be given the surname of the mother or the father, or a combination of the two.

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