Family Law Act Defines Common Law or Marriage Like Relationships

There is so much confusion around common law spouses or ‘marriage like relationships’ under the BC Family Law Act. Under our law, you can be considered common law if:

  • You lived in a marriage like relationship for more than 2 years; OR
  • you lived in a marriage like relationships for less than two years but have a child together.

Who Are Common Law Lawyers?

Common law lawyers are lawyers who will defend your family law rights if you are in a common law relationship. Nowadays, common law spouses have the same rights as married spouses under the Family Law Act. Therefore, common law lawyers will advise you of your rights when it comes to child support, spousal support, property or debt division, and child custody.

What is a marriage like relationship though? We will explain this here

If you are found to be common law,

you will have the same rights and obligations as married couples. This includes:

  • Right to spousal support or alimony;
  • Right to child support;
  • Right to child custody;
  • Right to property; and
  • Obligation for family debt.

So what do you do if you are dating or in a relationship but don’t want to be called common law? you can enter in to an agreement with your partner and opt out of being common law. 

YLaw Group exclusively focuses on family law cases. We represent all kinds of common law spouses. We have developed a cutting-edge, strategic approach to high net-worth, high stakes common law separations and divorces. Our award-winning family law firm has won 90% of its cases in trial in 2014-2016.

Because family law is all we practice, we have extensive insight into the BC Family Law Act, which was passed in March 2013. Our legal team advises you of your rights under the Act when dissolving a marriage-like relationship. We listen to your needs and help you reach the best possible outcomes to your separation.

If you plan to move in together, we recommend negotiating a cohabitation agreement immediately. Like a marriage agreement, the contract protects your rights should your relationship fall apart. Our lawyers draft solid agreements that withstand court challenges.

  • Difference Between Marriage and Common Law Couples

    You may be considered a spouse even if you are not married. The law governs both same sex and opposite sex relationships. If you are considered a spouse, you will be treated the same as married couples. The only difference is that the Family Law Act applies to both married people and common law, but the Divorce Act, only applies to married couples. The two Acts are similar but they have some key differences too. But in the end, being a spouse is the same as being married in most cases.

    You are not considered a spouse unless you have a marriage-like relationship. Therefore, long-time platonic roommates are not spouses and, conversely, long-term love interests may not be spouses. What exactly is a marriage like relationship? There are various factors the Court will consider in determine whether you lived in a marriage like relationship.

    Learn more about the different categories of spouse.

  • Common Law Rights Under the Family Law Act

    The BC Family Law Act extended the definition of spouses. The new provisions have caught many couples and lawyers off-guard. Our lawyers have diligently studied the court’s interpretation of the law so we know what to expect. Drawing on our in-depth knowledge of the law, we develop a plan of action that best preserves your rights to spousal support, child support and asset division.

    If appropriate in your case, we might challenge the misclassification of your relationship by a girlfriend or boyfriend who is not legally your spouse but wants a whole bunch of money from you. We present such evidence as separate bank accounts, real estate titled in your name only, gaps in your time living together, lack of intimacy or other indications that you were not in a marriage-like relationship.

    Learn more about your rights under the Act.

Get Experienced Legal Advice from a Vancouver Common Law Lawyer

YLaw Group drafts a solid cohabitation agreement that protects your rights during the relationship and delivers strategic representation should your relationship dissolve. Contact our award-winning legal team for assistance today or call 604-974-9529.

The content of this page was updated in February, 2016, for more accuracy, freshness and comprehensiveness. 



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