The difference between a marriage and a common-law union

A marriage is a formal and legally recognized union of two people who are in an intimate relationship. This union establishes the rights and obligations between the individuals. On the other hand, a common-law relationship is one in which two people live together in a conjugal relationship for a period of time without formalizing the union.

In Canada, common-law relationships legally fall under provincial jurisdiction. That is why the definition of a common-law relationship differs from province to province.

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Common Misconceptions: Principle Differences Between Common-law Relationships and Marriage

Rights arising under a common law relationship differ significantly from those afforded to married spouses.

In a common law relationship, one becomes a spouse after three years of continuous cohabitation or upon becoming the natural or adopted parents of a child, in a relationship of some permanence. For married couples, one automatically becomes a spouse after marriage, regardless of the duration of the relationship. A married spouse could be entitled to spousal support after one year of marriage;

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3 mins read

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