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Does common-law start over if we've had a break up?

Anonymous Asked:

Hi there. I am living in elkford, BC.  My Question is regarding the determination of timing of a common law relationship.

Background: we moved in together 8 years ago, we broke up 4 years ago, she moved into her own place, we lived apart. 8 months later we got back together and she moved back in (40 months ago). Now she has just moved out. I understand we are considered common law now---when it comes to the division of assets--- do we take increase in value of personal assets (pension/rsp) from 8 years ago or would this be considered a new common law relationship started only 40 months ago.

Thank you in advance.

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Stuart Zukerman
8 years ago

Reply: there is a technical legal argument (by analogy to the Divorce Act cases defining duration of a relationship where a reconciliation occurs after a separation ) that your relationship is now only 40 months long as you were separated for more than 90 days. However – judges are often results oriented such that my experience suggests that I could convince a judge to view this as an 8 year relationship given that your ex has essentially been financially dependent upon you throughout the past 8 years with the exception of that 8 month period. If you never divided assets and debts during the first 8 month separation then certainly the court would look at the increase in the equity of the assets over the entire 8 year period rather than only the last 40 months. If however you previously divided or otherwise finally settled your asset division during your first separation, then the court would only look at the increase in equity over the last 40 months.

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