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Social assistance rules about couples: What you need to know if you live with someone

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What rules do OW and ODSP use to decide if someone is my spouse?

OW or ODSP will decide you are spouses if any of the following are true:

  • you tell them that you are spouses
  • you are married to each other
  • the law says that the other person must support you or your child

And if you live together, OW or ODSP will also decide you are spouses if all of the following are true:

  1. You have been living together for at least 3 months.
  2. One of you supports the other or the two of you are "financially interdependent".
  3. You are "living together as a couple", not as two single people. This means that your relationship is like a marriage. Whether or not you have a sexual relationship with each other does not matter. They are not allowed to ask about that.

How do they decide that we are financially interdependent?

To find out if one of you supports the other or if the two of you are financially interdependent, OW or ODSP asks questions like:

  • Do you own things together?
  • Do you have joint bank accounts?
  • Has one of you ever included the other in a benefit plan at work?
  • Have you borrowed money as a couple or has one of you co-signed a loan for the other?
  • Are one or both of your names on leases or on bills for utilities, or cable or telephone services?

If your answers suggest that the person you live with is not your spouse, OW or ODSP should not ask you questions about whether you live together as a couple.

How do they decide that we are living together as a couple?

OW or ODSP will want to find out if the two of you are living together as a couple, which means that your relationship is like a marriage. To do this, they ask questions like:

  • Do friends, family members, and others who know you, think you are a couple?
  • Do schools, daycare centres, doctors, or other services and organizations you deal with, know the two of you as a couple?
  • If you have children from another relationship, do they treat the person you are living with as a parent? Do your children think this person is your spouse?

Whether or not you have a sexual relationship with each other does not matter. They are not allowed to ask about that.