Given the increase in couples living together in common law relationships. Its important for the parties to consider a cohabitation agreement.

What is a Cohabitation Agreement?

A cohabitation agreement will essentially identify what the parties are bringing into the common law relationship and what they want to take if they split up.

For example, the most important is property. If one party had already owned a property prior to getting involved in the common law relationship. Or if the parties decide to purchase a property together.


Common law couples do not enjoy automatic rights of splitting up the property whereas married couples do.

This can play out in various detrimental ways. If you owned property prior to, and now your common law partner is making a claim simply because she alleges she is entitled to. Or, if a party is not on title but has contributed substantially to the property.


In some situations, inadvertently or intentionally children may end up popping up. Here parties are not able to contract out of child support laws or access.

Spousal Support

One of the most reasons to have a cohabitation agreement may be for spousal support purposes. The parties can negotiate on their own whether spousal support will be payable, quantum or not.

Estate and Death

A common law partner is not automatically entitled to inherit or share in any property on the death of the other partner.

If your common law partner dies without a Will you as the surviving partner can be out of luck.

In some circumstances, partners may have never discussed this issue and one partner may have drafted a Will years ago, when previously married or single. In that scenario, the previously drafted Will may come into affect. Thus, leaving the surviving common law partner with nothing.

Why can’t I draft a cohabitation agreement?

You can. However, good luck if something comes up. Is easy to google cohabitation agreement and simply get template or precedent. You may also have a friend who had one drafted and simply says, “use mine”. This is very dangerous for a variety of reasons:

  1. The parties may not be apprised of their rights;
  2. One party may be more dominant;
  3. A party could feel coerced;
  4. A party could be under duress;

A legally compliant cohabitation agreement should be drafted by a lawyer and with both signatures verified by a lawyer.

Some will opt to forgo having a lawyer draft the agreement due to costs. However, its often money well spent.




Are you looking for a family law lawyer in Burlington or Oakville? Call my office.

My address is 901 Guelph Line, Burlington.
You can also call or text at 416-505-4901 OR call Toll Free: 1 (800) 939-9211