If there are children of your relationship (natural or adopted) you have the same rights with respect to the children as a married person. Parenting rights (custody/access) and child support do not depend on a marriage. Spousal support is different. Spousal support in either an opposite or a same-sex union depends on whether you and your partner have lived together “(a) continuously for a period of not less than three years, or (b) in a relationship of some permanence, if [you and your partner] are the natural or adoptive parents of a child.” Rights to property division as described above, apply only to married spouses. Non-married spouses cannot claim an equalization payment. In certain circumstances, however, a non-married spouse has limited rights to property in the other partner’s name. These rights depend on showing that there was an agreement that the other partner would hold the property or part of it in trust for the partner claiming the right, or that the partner claiming the right had made direct or indirect contributions to the property in terms of money or money’s worth that “unjustly enriched” the other partner.
Gary Joseph and Michael Stangarone are lawyers with Toronto’s MacDonald & Partners family-law firm.