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De facto union: living together without being married, What are your rights

De facto union: living together without being married

A de facto union, also called “common law union” or formerly “concubinage”, exists between two unmarried people who live together for a certain period of time or who live together for a certain period of time and who have a child together. These people may be considered “common law spouses” under the law. It is not always necessary to live together! It is possible to share a life together without living under the same roof!

Attention! A de facto union and a civil union are two different situations. This article deals only with de facto unions.

Common-law spouses are not automatically married after a certain time
Two people can choose to live together without getting married. And even if they live together for 1 year, 3 years, 15 years or 40 years or have several children together, they will never “automatically” be married.

As a result, de facto spouses do not benefit from certain protections reserved for married couples, particularly in the event of separation or death.

The de facto spouse:

Does not benefit from the protection of the family residence if only one of the spouses owns or rents the residence;

Does not have the right to division of property in the event of separation;
Is not entitled to a “compensatory allowance” for the work carried out during the common-law union for the benefit of his spouse;

Does not have the right to seek alimony for him in the event of separation;
Does not inherit in the event of the death of his spouse if the latter has not made a will or if he has not designated him as heir in his will;

How to provide protections for common-law spouses

In case of separation… or not!

The cohabitation contract allows de facto spouses to agree on aspects of living together while living together. It may also provide for the protection of the family residence and other protections in the event of separation, such as a division of property, a compensatory allowance or alimony for one of them.

In case of incapacity
Any adult, de facto spouse or not, can prepare a protection mandate (mandate in anticipation of incapacity). This document contains guidelines for that person to take care of themselves and their finances in case they are still alive but unable to make decisions.

In case of death
The will is an essential document to benefit your de facto spouse in the event of death. Among other things, the will makes it possible to decide in advance who will be the heirs and their shares of the deceased's property.

The will is an important document for everyone. On the other hand, it is even more important for de facto spouses, because without a will, the de facto spouse does not inherit according to the law. In practice, this can lead to problematic and heartbreaking situations. Here are some examples:

The de facto spouse died without having made a will. Her spouse inherits nothing at all;
The common-law partner does not have a will. All his property is therefore handed over to his children. As half of the house belonged to him, the surviving spouse finds himself co-owner of the house with the children;

The common-law partner was still legally married to another person. Since he has never divorced, his husband can inherit if he had not made a will or even claim a division of property or alimony from the estate.

In addition to the will, the de facto spouse can take out life insurance in favor of their spouse. Life insurance allows the surviving spouse to have a financial boost, whether for example to compensate for the loss of income of their deceased spouse, to pay funeral expenses or to pay tax on the property of the spouse. deceased.

Regardless of the situation, good succession planning allows you to predict in advance what will go to the common-law partner, in addition to maximizing the inheritance you will leave and avoiding potentially problematic situations as much as possible.

Common-law spouses are entitled to certain benefits in the same way as married people
Many people mistakenly think that they are automatically married if they live with their spouse for a certain period of time. This popular belief may come from the fact that common law spouses have the same advantages as married spouses in specific cases.

However, for all these advantages – often of a social nature – there is no uniform definition of what a de facto spouse is! Sometimes a couple can be considered common-law in a situation and other times not! It all depends on the type of situation and the laws governing it. Most situations use one of the following criteria to determine the existence of a common-law relationship:

two unmarried people who live together and publicly identify as a couple;

two unmarried people who live together for a certain period of time (sometimes 1 year, sometimes 3 years);

two unmarried people who live together AND have a child together (biological or adopted);

two unmarried people who live together for a certain period of time (usually 1 year) AND have a child together (biological or adopted) .

Sometimes a person can be a common law spouse of someone even though in reality they are still legally married or united to another person! Thus, it is better to find out from the available resources to find out if you are considered de facto spouses according to the law.