Toronto family law lawyer John Schuman was recently asked this question: "I live with my girlfriend and have been together for about a year, I'm concerned because she's been on welfare for 7 years, hasn't filed taxes for that time, has years of outstanding child support as her ex has primary custody and refuses to look for work or deal with any of this. My concern is that if we are considered common-law that I could be on the hook for her back and ongoing support, taxes owing or lose my assets. Should I be concerned?"
In Ontario, there is no property division between common-law couples. That means that, as a result of their relationship, they do not share in the value of each other assets or their debts. Your common-law partner's debts are hers, and yours are yours. You can share in each other's assets and debts only if you make them joint, either explicitly or by treating the assets as joint assets over a long period of time. To understand more about that, check on this webpage.
Living common-law in Ontario is very different from being married. There is a strict definition of what being common-law means, which may or may not even apply in your situation. If you are considered common-law, the main consequence is entitlement to spousal support. To better understand what it means to live in a common-law relationship, read this page or watch this video.
You might also want to watch this video on common family law mistakes that people make and how to avoid them. Although, none of that will be as beneficial as getting a consultation with a good family law lawyer who can explain how the law applies to your specific circumstances. Contact family law expert John Schuman at 416-446-5080.
You may also want to get a copy of this $20 easy-to-understand book about Ontario Family Law, because it explains the basics of all that applies to common-law couples and also explains court procedures and other options to resolving problems when a common-law relationship ends.