Is A Common-Law Relationship Treated As A Marriage In Canada?

Living in Canada, you probably know about common-law relationships. When you live with someone long enough, the law essentially recognizes your marriage and union, although it is not legal in the religious or documented sense of the word. While common-law relationships do provide you with some protections if you end up leaving your partner, there are some myths you should be careful about.

For instance, not all common-law relationships are treated the same in each region of Canada, which is why you may want to speak with your lawyer about what laws apply to your specifically. Common-law couples do get treated similarly to married couples in British Columbia, for example, as long as they have lived together for two years. That differs from Alberta, where the time limit is at least three years or if the couple has a child and lives together. Confusing these required relationship times or not knowing you can claim for a child can make a large difference in your case.

If you break up and are in a common-law relationship, you shouldn’t expect your assets to be divided. In fact, unless you have a cohabitation agreement or legal paperwork to show what you’ll do with your assets, you’ll need to make claims for the property you’ve purchased for your home.

British Columbia couples are treated slightly differently than those in Alberta, because if you’ve lived together for two years there, then you are entitled to a 50/50 split of both debts and assets in the home, and that includes inheritances and property from before your relationship began.