Separation of Common-Law Couples: Which Court Decides Important Issues?

Éducaloi

Common-law couples don’t need a court decision to make their separation official. But important issues arise when they break up, such as child support, living arrangements for their children and questions about money and property. If they can’t agree on these issues, they can ask a court to decide for them. 

What court should common-law partners go to? It depends on whether their requests involve their children.

 

Requests Involving Children

Requests for child custody or child support must be made to the Superior Court. If the couple also wants a court to decide questions about property or money, they can make these requests at the same time. They can include all requests in the same document.

 

Requests Involving Money or Property

For requests involving money or property, the court they must go to depends on the value of the property or the amount of money requested.

The court treats these requests in the same way it treats a request for money or property between two people who are not in a relationship with one another. The requests are not handled from a family law point of view.  

Here are examples of requests involving property or money that common-law couples might make:

  • dividing the value of property owned by both partners
  • return of property belonging only to one of the partners
  • unjust enrichment (when one partner has benefitted financially from a situation in an unfair way)
  • claiming an amount of money one partner owes the other

Important !
This article explains in a general way the law that applies in Quebec. This article is not a legal opinion or legal advice. To find out the specific rules for your situation, consult a lawyer or notary.