LexisNexis

LexisNexis

August 22, 2006 07:00 ET

Most Unmarried Co-habitants Believe Rights Are the Same But Are Not

Lawyers.comSM Poll Reveals Most Couples Do Not Sign a Legal Co-Habitation Agreement and Are Unaware of Legal Implications at Time of Separation

Attention: Assignment Editor, Lifestyle Editor, News Editor TORONTO, ONTARIO, PRESS RELEASE--(CCNMatthews - Aug. 22, 2006) - According to a new survey by lawyers.comSM, 59 per cent of unmarried Canadians who have lived with a romantic partner to whom they were not married believe the rights of co-habitants are the same as those for a married couple in the case of separation. In fact, many differences exist; for example, common-law spouses do not have statutory property rights at the time of separation. Only 30 per cent had a legal co-habitation agreement with their partner.

"When co-habitants don't have an agreement in place during a separation, things can get very messy, very quickly," said Aaron Franks, a partner at Epstein Cole in the area of family law, and a consultant to lawyers.com. "Without the benefit of a co-habitation agreement, couples face significant financial uncertainties if their relationship breaks down. First and foremost is the possibility that either party may assert a property claim on the main residence. These claims can be dealt with if a co-habitation agreement is drafted and the parties choose how to deal with their separate property. All in all these kinds of agreements tend to discourage subsequent litigation and provide for an orderly division of assets if the relationship breaks down."

The Ipsos Reid survey conducted for lawyers.com, an online legal resource centre from LexisNexis Canada that helps consumers and small businesses find lawyers and legal information, reveals that 48 per cent of Canadians have lived with a partner to whom they were not married. Canadians aged 55+ were the least likely to have lived with a romantic partner to whom they were not married (35 per cent), whereas those aged 35 to 54 were the most likely (58 per cent).

Some meaningful differences between provinces were observed. Quebecers were the least likely (52 per cent) to recognize the rights of co-habitants as the same as those for a married couple in the case of separation. They were also the most likely to have co-habitation agreements with their partner (57 per cent). On the other hand, British Columbians were the least likely (16 per cent) to have co-habitation agreements. Canadians in the Atlantic provinces were most likely to believe the rights of co-habitants are the same as those for married couples in the case of separation (71 per cent).

The lawyers.com web site provides information on co-habitation agreements and detailed findings from the survey.

Regional Breakdown

The following percentages of Canadians have lived with a romantic partner to whom they were not married:
British Columbia 55 per cent
Prairies 41 per cent
Ontario 42 per cent
Quebec 59 per cent
Atlantic 49 per cent

The following percentages of Canadians who have lived with a romantic partner have a co-habitation agreement with their partner:
British Columbia 16 per cent
Prairies 22 per cent
Ontario 20 per cent
Quebec 57 per cent
Atlantic 20 per cent

The following percentages of Canadians who have lived with a romantic partner believe the rights of co-habitants are the same as those for a married couple in the case of separation:
British Columbia 60 per cent
Prairies 65 per cent
Ontario 59 per cent
Quebec 52 per cent
Atlantic 71 per cent

Lawyers.com is an online directory of lawyers and law firms in Canada for consumers to find the legal help they need. Searches for lawyers can be done easily by location, by name of the law firm or lawyer, or by area of law practised. Articles and information on legal topics are also available to help consumers get answers to their basic legal questions. Lawyers.com is free and easy to use, and helps Canadians make informed decisions when selecting legal services.

Lawyers.com is published by LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell (www.martindale.com), the leading client development company for the legal profession. The company provides lawyers, business executives, and consumers with detailed information to help them identify, evaluate, and select legal counsel.

Methodology
These are the findings of an Ipsos Reid/LexisNexis poll conducted on behalf of lawyers.com from April 27 to May 1, 2006. For the survey, a representative, randomly selected sample of 1,184 adult Canadians completed an online survey. With a sample of this size, the results are considered accurate to within ±2.8 percentage points at a confidence interval of 95 per cent. The margin of error will be larger within regions and for other sub-groupings of the survey population. To view the survey factum, please visit www.ipsos-na.com/news.

About LexisNexis
LexisNexis® (www.lexisnexis.com) is a leading provider of information and services solutions, including its flagship web-based Lexis® and Nexis® research services, to a wide range of professionals in the legal, risk management, corporate, government, law enforcement, accounting, and academic markets. A member of Reed Elsevier Group plc [NYSE: ENL; NYSE: RUK] (www.reedelsevier.com), LexisNexis serves customers in 100 countries with 13,000 employees worldwide.

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/For further information: Media Contact:
Jennifer Atkinson
Ketchum Public Relations Canada
(416) 544-4913
jennifer.atkinson@ketchum.com
/ IN: JUSTICE, OTHER

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