Definition and Recognition of Common-law Relationships
- Common-law marriage is a legal marriage without a marriage license or ceremony.
- It occurs when two legally capable individuals live together as a married couple.
- The couple holds themselves out to the world as married.
- Common-law marriage is often used incorrectly to describe cohabitation or other formalized relationships.
- Non-marital relationship contracts are not universally recognized.
- Common-law marriage is different from cohabitation or other legally formalized relationships.
- In Canada, couples in marriage-like relationships may have some rights, but they are not legally considered married.
- In Scotland, common-law marriage does not exist, but there was a type of irregular marriage until 2006.
- Family law varies between provinces in Canada.
- Common-law relationships are recognized differently across provinces.
- Some provinces have regulations for both romantic/sexual and platonic relationships.
- The term 'common law' is informally used in federal government documents.
- Same-sex partners are included in common-law relationships.
- Australia does not have common-law marriage.
- Relationships between unmarried individuals are often referred to as de facto relationships.
- De facto relationships are recognized under the Family Law Act, except in Western Australia.
- Federal and state/territory laws regulate de facto relationships.
- De facto relationships outside of Australia are a state matter.
- Canada does not have common-law marriage under the legal concept.
- Common-law relationships are recognized for certain purposes.
- The Parliament of Canada has legislative authority over marriage and divorce.
- Non-marital relations, referred to as common-law spouses, are regulated by provincial law.
- The Civil Marriage Act and Criminal Code of Canada govern marriage violations.
Eligibility for Federal Government Spousal Benefits
- Common-law status is automatically recognized after a minimum period of living together.
- Same-sex partners are eligible for common-law benefits.
- Approximately one-fifth of Canadian couples are in common-law relationships.
- The number of common-law relationships has tripled since 1981.
- Statistics Canada data from 2016 supports the increase in common-law relationships.
- The Canada Revenue Agency defines living common-law as being in a conjugal relationship for at least 12 continuous months.
- Recognition of unmarried partners for immigration purposes.
- Citizenship & Immigration Canada requires a minimum one-year period of continuous conjugal relationship.
- Evidence of commitment and shared life is necessary for recognition.
- Exceptions are made for couples unable to live together due to legal restrictions or external circumstances.
Common-law Relationships in Specific Regions
- Alberta recognizes adult interdependent relationships.
- Details of the requirements and criteria for adult interdependent relationships.
- Alberta law considers marriage and being a spouse as separate concepts.
- Financial and property implications of becoming an unmarried spouse in Alberta.
- Inheritance and benefits from government programs for unmarried spouses in Alberta.
- British Columbia does not use the term 'common-law marriage'.
- Distinction between being a spouse and being married.
- Criteria for being in a marriage-like relationship in BC.
- Factors considered by the court in determining a marriage-like relationship.
- Financial support, division of property, inheritance, and government program benefits for unmarried spouses in BC.
- Common-law relationships in Saskatchewan are regulated by The Family Property Act and The Family Maintenance Act.
- Queens Bench justices have recognized common-law relationships even if one or more of the spouses were civilly married to others.
- Common-law relationships in Saskatchewan can coexist with civil marriages.
- The Family Property Act and The Family Maintenance Act provide legal guidelines for common-law relationships in Saskatchewan.
Common-law Marriage in Other Countries
- Common-law marriage in Denmark.
- Historical Jyske Lov recognized a common-law marriage after three years of cohabitation.
- The woman in the common-law marriage was considered the rightful lady of the house.
- Common-law marriage in India.
- The Supreme Court of India defined a relationship in the nature of marriage as akin to a common-law marriage.
- Conditions for a common-law marriage or relationship in the nature of marriage include being of marriageable age, not already married, living together in a way that appears married to society, cohabiting for a significant period of time, and living together voluntarily.
- Common-law marriages afford rights and protections under the Domestic Violence Act of 2005 and Section 125 of the Criminal Code.
- Children born in common-law relationships are treated as equivalent to legitimate children in terms of inheritance under the Hindu Marriage Act.
- Common-law marriage in Ireland.
- Ireland does not recognize common-law marriage.
- The Civil Partnership and Certain Rights and Obligations of Cohabitants Act 2010 provided some rights to unmarried cohabitants.
- Civil partnerships are no longer available in Ireland after the legalization of same-sex marriage.
- Couples in civil partnerships can choose to convert their partnership into marriage or remain in a civil partnership.
- The Marriage Act 2015 legalized same-sex marriage in Ireland.
Common-law marriage Data Sources