Common Law Rights to the Home

Depending on whether a couple is married and considering a divorce or in a common law relationship, their rights will differ. Common law spouses are not married, and therefore do not have the same right to division of property or occupation as married spouses.

In the context of the family home, this means that if only one common law partner’s name is on title, then the other person does not have an automatic right to its value or to live in the property. A common law spouse may however make a claim for equity in the home if they contributed to the down payment or mortgage payments.

For common law spouses that have both of their names on the title of the property, they will need to determine whether they jointly own the property as “tenants in common” or “joint tenants.” Tenants in common own the property in proportion to their percentage of interest that is listed on title. Joint tenants automatically own equal shares in the property. It does not matter if married spouses are listed as tenants in common, they will automatically have entitlement to an equal interest in the property.