Statutory declaration of common-law union
Living with a spouse does not, in many respects, have the same legal value as for a married couple. Following a separation, when two individuals are not married, the process of dividing the assets, the joint residence, the level of alimony, etc., is much more arduous.
An agreement between spouses can be quite beneficial. It is possible to define how the assets will be divided prior to eventual separation. The declaration will aim to clear any ambiguous issue that may arise.
The common-law owner of the house is the sole owner. The owner can sell or mortgage the property without having to obtain the consent of the other party and keep the full amount of money received. So, if the house is already in the name of one spouse, an agreement between spouses can define how this asset will be divided under the force of law. If you plan to jointly purchase a property, you could do so under the terms of undivided co-ownership. This means that both your names are to be found on the purchase documents as being the buyers. You will thus own equal shares of the property.
When common-law spouses separate, if one of the partners is without financial resources or in a more precarious position, her/his status will not require that any alimony be paid by the spouse. If for example, the spouses had agreed by mutual consent that one of them would work while the other took care of the children, the latter could not request alimony based on now being without revenue. However, the spouse who has custody of the children has the right to receive alimony for their care.
Even though you have spent a lifetime together, if you are not married, you are not the legal heir. The estate will pass on to the family of the deceased. That is why spouses wanting to bequeath part of their assets to their partner must have a will.