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Understanding Common-Law Relationships in BC | Family Lawyers

Legal issues for people in common-law relationships in BC can be complicated. The status granted to couples living together outside of a traditional marriage differs from one province to another. British Columbia couples living together share the same rights and privileges enjoyed by married couples. This is provided they have cohabited for at least two years. However, there are many exceptions.

When you are in a marriage-like relationship, it can be even more complicated than marriage. The laws are not as clear and many factors must be considered. Common-law couples need to be careful and take family law seriously. If your common-law spouse takes on a bunch of debt, is it considered family debt? You don’t want to be responsible for any mistakes that your common-law partner makes.
Instead of calling us, you will fill out the form on this page. We will then send this information to one of the family lawyers that we work with. They can call you for a free 15-minute consultation or email you. Let us know what you prefer.

A top family lawyer can help you with the following:

  • Creating a cohabitation agreement
  • Providing you with legal advice
  • Filing something in court to fight for your rights
  • Creating a marriage agreement
  • Corresponding with the opposing party (your ex-spouse)

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Common-Law Spouses

We also have lawyers in Vancouver, Kelowna, Duncan, and Victoria that can go to court for you. Our family lawyers often suggest starting with a separation agreement during a common-law dispute. These agreements normally start at $1100 but you will need to confirm with the lawyer you speak to. Sometimes when a separation agreement fails, you need to push things farther. If this happens, your lawyer can fight for your rights in courts.

The most common question we get asked is what period of time do people need to be together to be common law. There is no legal answer to this, as there are too many factors to consider. Instead of leaving it to chance, make sure you get a cohabitation agreement created prior to moving in together.

The differences in the laws of the different provinces can be striking. For example, couples in a common-law relationship in Ontario do not have the same property rights enjoyed by married couples. However, couples in a common-law relationship in British Colombia have the same rights as couples in a traditional marriage. Read on to learn important things to know about proving common-law relationships in British Columbia.

Common Law RelationshipOur Process For Common Law Separation

Once you hire one of our best family lawyers, you not only get access to the top lawyer but also our support team. Our support team will make sure the lawyer is getting you help as soon as possible.  Our support team will make sure the lawyer has all the information they need. This will save you money since the lawyer won’t have to do unneeded correspondence.

Below are some other things to consider regarding cohabitation:

  • Will you need to pay spousal support if you separate?
  • Should you sign a cohabitation agreement before moving in together?
  • What are the rules for BC family law?
  • How can you set out the excluded property so it doesn’t get designated family property? What will happen to any family asset if you are unmarried?
  • How do you protect yourself while in a common-law relationship?
  • Will a prenuptial agreement replace a cohabitation agreement if you get married?

Common-Law Marriage In BC

We have several lawyers in British Columbia in various cities. Our top lawyers believe in helping their clients stay out of court. Going to court is often too expensive.

If you need a family lawyer because you are in a conjugal relationship, call us toll-free or fill out the form on this page.

Common-law Relationships in British Columbia

The Family Law Act of British Columbia defines a “spouse” as someone married to another person. The relationship existing between spouses and the rights that go with that relationship begins on the date of the marriage. The law includes in its definition of “spouse” someone living together with another person. This must happen for at least two years in a marriage-like relationship. The two-year period is shortened if they had a child together.

Legal recognition as a spouse is important because it grants rights. These rights other provinces reserve exclusively for couples who are in a traditional marriage. British Columbia couples in a common-law relationship are entitled to an equal share of assets acquired during the relationship when they split up. Ontario, in contrast, grants such property division rights to individuals in a marriage who divorce. But they do not grant them to couples in a common-law relationship who split up.

If you want to speak to a top family law expert, use the chat function in the bottom right of the screen. We will take your information, and you will get a call back from an experienced lawyer.

Common-Law Relationships in BC

Proving a British Columbia Common-Law Partnership

Common-law partnerships lack the legal formalities required for couples entering a traditional marriage. Before a couple may get married in British Columbia, one of the parties must apply for a marriage license. This must happen at least three months before the ceremony. The fee for the license is $100. The ceremony must be performed by someone who is licensed to officiate at marriage ceremonies.

The government mails a marriage certificate to the couple following the marriage ceremony. The certificate is proof of the marriage.

Couples living in a common-law relationship do not have the convenience of a marriage certificate. Therefore, it’s harder to prove the existence of their relationship. Instead, they must prove the existence of the existence of a marriage-like relationship. They must prove the fact that it has existed for at least two years.

Questions To Ask About Spousal Relationship

  • How does the division of property work for unmarried couples?
  • What should you do when the relationship ends?
  • Can you create a domestic agreement if you are not married? How much is it?
  • If you have a child together, how will the parenting time work if you separate?
  • What is the Supreme Court, Court Of Appeal, and Provincial Court?
Are you curious about common law BC? It’s time to speak to an experienced family lawyer. Call Clearway Law at and we will get some information from you. If you need legal help, we will connect you to a family lawyer who can provide legal advice.

Common-Law Relationships in BC

There is no one thing that will prove you and another person were in a common-law relationship. The manner in which the parties to the relationship conduct themselves is what establishes it as a common-law relationship. This is as opposed to something else, such as a dating relationship.

Factors a court might look at to determine common-law relationships in BC:

  • Residing in the same home
  • Sleeping together
  • Sexually active together
  • Holding themselves out to the public as spouses
  • Purchasing gifts for each other
  • Acquiring assets together
  • Share financial responsibilities
  • Shared parenting of children born of the relationship

A driver’s licenses showing the same address and joint bank accounts should be organized. We are also looking for shared utility bills and rental leases. Further, any other documents indicating the couple share their lives together. This can be used to prove a common-law relationship.

Learn more about family law: Modification of a Divorce or Separation Agreement: Know Your Options

Getting Legal Advice

Common-Law Relationships in BC | Getting Legal Advice

Important legal rights could be lost if you are unable to prove you were a common-law couple in British Columbia. You need advice from a lawyer familiar with the laws in British Columbia. Also, this information would be pertaining to common-law relationships. The lawyer would be experienced in proving the existence of such relationships. Further, this is essential to protect your property and financial rights.

Common-Law Relationships in BC. Get help by reaching out to us via the live chat function. Further, you can find the live chat at the bottom right of the screen. Also, you can also call us below or fill out one of our forms.

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