Buying a Home Before Marriage: Common-Law Marriage And Buying A First Home

Common-Law Marriage And Buying A First Home

As an individual, what can you do if you don’t want to get married but want to live with your significant other? If you want to buy a home, own assets and have other kinds of property, how will you be affected?

As more and more Canadians choose to live together before marriage or without the need for it, the discussion on what to do in the case of an eventual break-up has become prominent. With common-law couples, the protections of a legal union aren’t present. For instance, if you buy a home together and live together for a few years, you could find that when you want to break up, you aren’t entitled to as much of the property as you’d hoped. If you only pay the mortgage, for example, then it’s possible those payments will be treated like living expenses, not payments into a property that you can retrieve. You could, however, ask for a proportionate amount of your down payment, if you made one.

What’s the best thing you can do for yourself if you want to buy a home with someone you’re not married to? Get a cohabitation agreement, which is similar to a prenuptial agreement.

If you decide to get married, you’ll be in a more equalized situation. While the Supreme Court of Canada says that you should be treated equally as if you were married if you were living like you were, the truth is that you will only really be treated as if you’re married if you really are. Then, you’ll be able to have your assets divided equally if you have to divorce, too.


Stuart Zukerman

Stuart Zukerman, a graduate of the University of British Columbia, has over 32 years of experience in litigation with a focus on Family Law, Personal Injury, Wrongful Dismissal claims, and Collaborative Divorce & Mediation. He has extensive trial experience in divorce, child custody, spousal support, asset division, and ICBC injury claims. As an accredited Family Law Mediator, he helps resolve disputes without court intervention. Stuart has also authored papers on family law and lectured at CLE courses.