Plenty of people in romantic relationships make the decision not to get married. While there are many good reasons for this, people involved in common law relationships should understand that their partners may not be afforded all of the rights that people who are married enjoy, especially when it comes to having to prove that there was a relationship. This was a lesson learned the hard way by a woman who’s partner passed away without providing for her in his will.

The relationship

The issue at the original trial was described by the court as, “Can a romantic partner – even one in an apparently close and loving relationship for several years – make a claim for dependent relief without establishing that she actually lived together with the deceased for at least three years?”

The applicants were a mother and daughter. The mother claimed to have been involved with the deceased in a committed relationship from August 2009 until his death on December 31, 2016. The deceased’s will, which was dated May 9, 2012, did not mention the applicants nor make provisions for them. When the mother applied for dependent’s relief, it was rejected on the grounds that the deceased was never married to the mother, and they didn’t ever live together. The motion judge found,
“There is no corroborated evidence that (the deceased) demonstrated a settled intention to treat (the mother) as a member of his family. While he clearly had great affection for her and demonstrated a level of generosity towards her, he was generous with others and (the mother) was never introduced to any of (the deceased’s) own family (including his children), let alone introduced as a daughter of his family.”

Ultimately, the motion judge found that the deceased was a “charming” and “charismatic” man who formed close relationships with many women, with not all of them being sexual relationships.

On appeal

The mother appealed on the grounds that the motion judge placed too much emphasis on the finding that she and the deceased did not live together. The court agreed that he did place a great deal of emphasis on that, but noted,

“(The motion judge) also took into account other factors. He looked at the factor of fidelity in the relationship, the financial arrangements, the overall nature of the relationship, and their alleged common life together. In addition, he found there were clear breaks in the relationship on two different occasions. He supported his findings with careful reference to the evidence.”

At NULaw we are committed to guiding our clients through the most stressful times in their lives with sound, practical advice and experienced advocacy. We know that some estate disputes require skillful negotiation, whereas other might require a more forceful approach. We use the strategy most appropriate to each individual matter, and pride ourselves on building strong relationships with each of our clients, as well as providing personalized, focused legal advice unique to the specific circumstances of each case. Contact NULaw online or at 416-481-5604 to book a consultation today.

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