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Marriage, cohabitation contracts offer couples protection

Marriage and cohabitation agreements offer couples the best protection for their assets should the relationship come to an end, Toronto family lawyer Rick Peticca tells Bloomberg News.

Peticca, an associate with Shulman Law Firm, says when it comes to the division of assets, there are important differences between married and common-law couples in Ontario. He notes that generally speaking, the division of assets for common-law spouses is done according to ownership as opposed to equalization.

An Angus Reid Institute poll shows that many Canadians view marriages and common-law relationships in a similar light, the online news site reports.

When asked if the current tax rules — which treat couples the same way whether they are married or common-law partners — are adequate, or if there should be extra benefits for people who legally marry, almost six-in-10 (59 per cent) say couples who legally marry should not receive extra tax benefits unavailable to common-law couples, Bloomberg reports. In addition, 58 per cent feel common-law partners should be treated the same as those who are married when it comes to splitting up assets if the relationship ends.

While attitudes toward marriage in Canada may be changing, more than half of those surveyed have walked down the aisle at least once in their life, the article goes on to say.

“The 40 per cent who aren’t married say they aren’t opposed to the idea of marrying someday,” Bloomberg reports. “Four-in-ten of the 40 per cent say they would like to marry one day and 33 per cent aren’t sure if they want to marry, but aren’t ruling it out. About one-quarter say they aren’t interested in changing their marital status, primarily because they haven’t found the right person — yet.”

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