What's a common-law relationship?
People usually use the term spouse when talking about married couples. But you can also be a spouse under the law if you're not married.
When you live with someone without being married, it's called living in a "marriage-like relationship" (you might call it a common-law relationship). If you do this, the law usually sees you as a spouse after a certain amount of time.
When is a relationship considered common-law?
The amount of time that needs to pass for a relationship to be common-law is different for some federal and provincial laws:
- some laws treat you as spouses after you've lived together for at least two years
- other laws treat you as spouses after you've lived together for just one year, or even less
- BC provincial law treats you as spouses if you've lived together for any length of time and you have a child together (unless you have an issue about dividing property)
How is common-law different from marriage?
It's important that you know your rights and responsibilities if you are or are planning to be in a common-law relationship.
Describes the legal issues related to common-law relationships (involving property, debt, children, benefits, and wills).
About the rights common-law partners have if their partner dies.