Depending on where you live in Canada, your legal protection may be limited in a common-law relationship, especially when it comes to determining the division of assets when you separate, Pawlitza said. And that can make the common law a less advantageous option, just from a financial standpoint, she explained. According to Justice Brownstone, spousal support is possible for Ontario couples if there were “economic consequences” to the separation. If one person in the relationship regularly supports the other person – or, for example, if a person had to give up their career to care for a child – then they may be eligible for spousal support. The statistical unit has been changed from “person aged 15 years and over” to “person” so that information on the classification of persons under 15 years of age can be included. The definition of “living common law” has been simplified, but no significant changes have been made. About one-fifth of Canadians live in common-law relationships, three times more than in 1981, according to 2016 data from Statistics Canada. A recent British Columbia decision granting common-law spouses the same basic rights as married couples after two years of cohabitation highlighted how common-law partners are treated in other provinces. This week, host Lauren O`Neil speaks with experts on CBC Live Online about the mosaic of marriage-like designations for common-law couples across Canada.
Join the discussion on Thursday, March 21 at 7 p.m. ET. “It is very uncertain that you are in customary law. Spousal support rights and child support rights are clearer, but property rights are clearer. is often very fuzzy,” she said. “Living common-law” means that you live with someone who is not your spouse, but with whom you have a conjugal relationship and to whom at least one of the following applies: Brownstone added that this is in no way based on the same principles as being married. On the contrary, he said, “it is based on the resulting law of trust. We use trust to protect common law property rights. Often, women don`t change their names when they marry, and even in the language they use words that refer to their partner, so they live common-law, even if they`re married, Belleau said.
Under the definition in Nova Scotia`s Food and Custody Act, a couple is considered to be in a common-law relationship if they live together in a relationship similar to marriage and publicly refer to each other as partners or spouses. However, the length of time the couple has to live together may vary depending on the problem being treated. In Alberta, an interdependent adult partner can apply for spousal support, and the same can be true for Newfoundland couples. Under New Brunswick`s Family Services Act, spousal support is also available to couples under common law. According to case law, the definition of a life partner should be understood as “a person who (normally) lives together”. Once the one-year cohabitation is established, the partners can live apart for a period of time while respecting customary law. For example, a couple may have been separated due to illness or death of a family member, adverse conditions in countries (e.g. war, political unrest), or for reasons related to employment or education, and therefore not living together at the time of application. Despite the breakdown of cohabitation, a customary relationship exists if the couple has lived together in a conjugal relationship for at least one year without interruption in the past and wishes to do so again as soon as possible. There should be evidence that both parties are continuing the relationship.
British Columbia`s March 18 decision treats common-law couples in essentially the same way as married couples – under a new definition of “spouse,” B.C. common-law couples who have lived together for two years now have the same rights and obligations as married couples. Persons married to third parties may be considered partners if their marriage breaks down and they have lived apart and separated from their spouse for at least one year, provided that they have lived in a conjugal relationship with the partner. Life with a partner can only be considered to have begun when a physical separation from the spouse has taken place. A common-law relationship cannot be legally established if one or both parties continue to have a conjugal relationship with a person to whom they remain legally married. Quebec is the only province that does not recognize common-law relationships. The Supreme Court of Canada ruled in January 2013 that provinces have the right to decide whether couples should have the same rights as married couples under common law, and thus allowed Quebec to continue to exclude common-law relationships from recognition, regardless of how long two people have lived together. The following people are not recognized as common-law partners: In Alberta, common-law relationships are called interdependent adult partners. This is considered a common-law relationship if the couple has lived together for three years or more, or has a child and lives together.
Living together in a relationship similar to marriage can be common-law in most provinces, but it does not do anything in terms of dividing property acquired during the relationship, unless a cohabitation agreement or other legal arrangement has been made between the couple. It`s also important to understand why a will is extremely important when you`re living in a common-law relationship, as the law treats legally married couples differently than common-law partners.