Married or Unmarried Relationship?

It is important to determine whether you are dealing with the breakdown of a marriage or an unmarried relationship.

Persons who are married will have the option of being divorced.  Married persons will deal with issues around spousal support, child support and the care of children through either the Divorce Act or the FLA.  Married persons will deal with issues around property division through the FLA.

Unmarried persons who have lived together in a marriage-like relationship for at least two years are “spouses” as defined by section 3(1) of the FLA.  They will have property rights under Parts 5 and 6 of the FLA.  They can also use the FLA to make claims for spousal support, child support, and the care of children.

Pursuant to s. 3(1) of the FLA, persons who have not cohabited for two years but have a child together are considered spouses for the purposes of child support, spousal support and the care of children.  Those individuals may not utilize the provisions under Parts 5 and 6 of the FLA related to property and pension division.

Unmarried persons who either never lived together or lived together for less than two years, and have no children together, are not spouses. They are not entitled to claim spousal support. Their claims against each other are generally limited to property claims under principles of unjust enrichment.

Community Discussion

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If spouses are unmarried, the date of separation should be looked at immediately. The limitation period here is very important, as sometimes clients do not realize that they have run out of time since the separation.