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Terminating a common-law relationship

A common-law relationship is dissolved when the spouses no longer live at the same address. The termination of a common-law relationship may affect such things as Kela benefits and your child's day care fees. You yourself are responsible for notifying authorities of the termination of your common-law relationship.

If common-law spouses have children together and these children are under the age of 18, they must make decisions concerning them just as couples getting divorced do. Common-law spouses may also receive help in making these decisions from for example family mediation. Read more on the Infopankki web page Children in a divorce.

During a common-law relationship, each party maintains his or her own property. When a common-law relationship is terminated, property is usually divided in accordance with what belongs to whom.

If a common-law husband and wife acquire property together, both parties must be recorded as buyers and all the relevant receipts must be kept. In such a case, this property is divided in half if the common-law relationship ends. If only one of the spouses is recorded as the buyer, this property will belong to him or her when the common-law relationship ends.

Common-law spouses may also have property the ownership of which has not been discussed. In this case, it is assumed that both parties own an equal share and the property in question is divided in half.

If common-law spouses cannot decide how to divide their property they can in some cases ask a District Court to provide them with an executor for division of property. You can only request a District Court to grant you an executor if your common-law marriage has lasted for at least five years or if you have children together.

In some cases, one spouse may receive compensation from the other when they separate. A common-law spouse may receive compensation if he or she has, for example, worked for his or her spouse and thus enabled him or her to add to his or her property and thus division of property based solely on ownership would be unjust.

If a common-law relationship ends in one of the partner’s death, the common-law husband and wife do not inherit from each other. A common-law husband and wife have no right, for example, to stay and live in the family’s shared home if it is the property of the dead partner. The inheritance goes to the children or siblings of the dead partner.

Common-law spouses may, however, make a will (testamentti) in case one of them dies. By this will, they can ensure that certain property, for example a home they have purchased together, will go to the other spouse in the event of the other's death. Common-law spouses may also make a written contract on how their property is to be divided in case their relationship comes to an end. If you would like to make a will or a contract on how your property is to be divided in case of separation, ask for advice from a legal aid office or a lawyer.

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