Most people know something about Family Law. After all, at one time or another, everyone has heard a “divorce story” from a friend or family member, seen something in TV or movies, or read something on the subject. From all these different sources, the information regarding Family Law in Ontario often gets lost, and common myths are perpetuated. This article is intended to clear up some of the most common misconceptions that people have about family law.

Myth#1: A Common Law Relationship has all of the same rights as a Marriage.

People often assume that once a couple has lived together in a common law relationship for a period of time, they automatically have all of the same rights as a married couple. This is incorrect. Unmarried spouses have no automatic right to the division of assets the way that married couples do. Sadly, often people do not realize that this is the case until the relationship is ending and it is too late to arrange one’s affairs in accordance with his or her intentions. That does not mean, however, that unmarried spouses are left without options. There are legal arguments that can be made in pursuit of a property claim; however it is often an uphill battle, and one that people in these circumstances sometimes do not have the time, energy, and resources to pursue.

Myth #2: We just divide the assets in half, right?

Wrong. Many people are under the impression that the only thing that has to happen with respect to property division is that any and all assets are divided equally between the parties. Property division in Ontario is done based on a formula. There are certain deductions and exclusions that are factored into that formula, and most people are completely unaware of these concepts. To complicate matters even more, there are certain exceptions which can apply depending on the way that people have chosen to arrange their finances over the course of their relationship. These decisions can significantly impact a party’s financial outcome. Often, people are completely unaware of the impact of their financial decisions at the time they are made, and suffer the consequences at the breakdown of the relationship.

Myth #3: The kids are living with me, that means I have sole custody.

One of the most common mistakes people make when talking about family law is to assume that custody and residence are one and the same. Custody deals with decision making, where as residence arrangements deal with where the children live. Parents can have joint custody of a child while that child lives primarily with one parent. This would mean that both parents, together, make major decisions
about the child’s life; for instance decisions regarding religion, non-emergency healthcare, and education even though that child may live with one parent majority of the time.

The above information is not legal advice of any kind, and you should be sure to speak to a qualified family law lawyer about your specific situation. For more information, call us at 905-273-4588 or email us at to book a free 30 minute consultation with one of our experienced family law lawyers.

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