Common Law Marriage or Mere Housemates?

This video is about whether or not you live in a common law relationship. As you know, many couples have for some time now lived in common law relationships without the sanctity of a marriage certificate. For many of those years, they were legally unprotected but in recent years, that has changed. Now, generally speaking, if a party—if parties, I should say, lived together for two years, they’re generally considered in British Columbia for most of our statutes to be a common law couple. Thus, they have claims under the Wills Variation Act. They can inherit on an intestacy and they have claims under statutes such as the Family Compensation Act with respect to wrongful deaths.

There are many criteria as to whether a couple lives in a common law relationship because just as many possibilities of various relationships exist today as one could possibly imagine. So the courts will look at such things as whether you in fact even live under the same roof or do you hold yourself up to the community at large as a married couple, whether you share expenses, whether you share assets and just what type of lifestyle you have. But none of them themselves are necessarily conclusive. This is an evolving area of law. Many people have come out of the closet in recent years and have talked about long time relationships which no one knew about. This area will continue to grow and typically the rights of common law spouses will be increasingly protected.

Trevor Todd

Trevor Todd is one of the province’s most esteemed estate litigation lawyers. He has spent more than 45 years helping the disinherited contest wills and transfers – and win. From his Kerrisdale office, which looks more like an eclectic art gallery than a lawyer’s office, Trevor empowers claimants and restores dignity to families across BC. He is a mentor to young entrepreneurs and an art buff who supports starving artists the world over. He has an eye for talent and a heart for giving back.

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