Defining A "Marriage-Like" Relationship

In 2013, new changes were introduced in the Family Law Act of British Columbia. One of those changes affected couples who were in common law relationships. Those changes meant couples in marriage-like relationships would now have the same rights and obligations as married couples.

What Is A Marriage-Like Relationship?

In order for unmarried couples to be considered a marriage-like relationship, one of two situations has to apply:

  • The couple must have lived together for two years or more in a domestic relationship (this does not apply to property division or pension division)
  • The couple lived together for less than two years but has a child with the other person.

The term "marriage-like" refers to a relationship between two individuals that has the accepted features of a conjugal relationship. Apart from the time the couple was living together and whether they had a child or children, the court also looks at whether the couple:

  • Shared a residence
  • Shared finances
  • Had an intimate relationship
  • Had a child together
  • Took part in social activities together

The law recognizes that not all relationships are the same. Each case that disputes whether the relationship was marriage-like will be examined on its own merits.

Does Being In A Marriage-Like Relationship Mean I Am Married?

No, it does not. Even though new legislation granted the same legal entitlements and obligations to common law couples as married couples, you are not considered married if you are in a common law relationship. To be considered married you must have gone through a religious or civil marriage ceremony.

Get More Answers To Your Questions

If you have more questions about common law relationship or are separating from your partner, contact us for a free consultation. Call the Vancouver lawyers at Westside Family Law at 604-800-8853. You can also reach us by filling out our online form.