“What happens to the home when a common law couple separates?”
It’s treated just like any other property.
Whoever’s name is on title gets the home. If both of your names are on title, then the home will be shared according to ownership interests (normally equally).
But that’s unfair! I paid the downpayment and paid for all the groceries so my partner could pay the mortgage.
You may have a claim for unjust enrichment.
Possession of the matrimonial home after separation
Possession of the matrimonial home means the right to stay in the matrimonial home, regardless of ownership.
In Ontario, upon a marriage ending, both parties have the automatic right to say in the matrimonial home, even if it is not in their name.
You have no such right in a common law relationship – if your name is not on the home, you could simply come home one day and find yourself locked out.
Although theoretically when you separate you can ask the court for possession as part of spousal support, such requests are rarely successful.
Special treatment of the matrimonial home
In a marriage, the matrimonial home is treated differently when dividing property.
Normally, when your marriage ends, the value of any property you owned when you married is yours — it is not divided.
This is not the case with the matrimonial home.
If you own a home on your wedding day, your home is divided between you and your spouse.
This is not the case in a common law separation.
Possession of the matrimonial home after your partner passes away
If your common law partner passes away, in Ontario you have no right to remain in the home, unlike if you were married.
However, you could ask the court to stay in the matrimonial home as a incident of spousal support.
While such claims are generally unsuccessful in cases of separation, courts often grant this in cases when one party has passed away.