I've recently had to fill out some paperwork at work where I had to identify my relationship status.  After a few conversations with family and Jordan, we decided that we are very likely common law.

As it turns out the law varies province to province and even federally.

According to Wikipedia
In Canada, the legal definition and regulation of common-law marriage fall under provincial jurisdiction. A couple must meet the requirements of their province's Marriage Act for their common-law marriage to be legally recognized.

According to the Canada Revenue Agency, as of 2007, a common-law relationship is true if at least one of the following applies:

  1. the couple have been living in a conjugal relationship for at least 12 continuous months;

  2.  the couple are parents of a child by birth or adoption; or

  3. one of the couple has custody and control of the child (or had custody and control immediately before the child turned 19 years of age) and the child is wholly dependent on that person for support.

In many cases common-law couples have the same rights as married couples under federal law. Various federal laws include "common-law status," which automatically takes effect once two people (of any gender) have lived together in a conjugal relationship for five full years. Common-law partners may be eligible for various federal government spousal benefits. As family law varies between provinces, there are differences between the provinces regarding the recognition of common-law marriage.

Okay, so that tells us that federally - Jordan and I are in a common law relationship and have been since March, 2009 ( a year after he moved in).

According to the Adult Interdependent Relationships Act which was passed during the fall 2002 sitting of the provincial Legislature and became law on June 1, 2003, there are two key elements that define an adult interdependent relationship.
First, an adult interdependent partner is a person who is involved with another person in an unmarried relationship of interdependence where they:

  1. share one another’s lives

  2. are emotionally committed to one another, and

  3. function as an economic and domestic unit.

Second, to be considered adult interdependent partners, one of the following must apply to the relationship. The adult interdependent partners must be:

  1. living in an interdependent relationship for a minimum of three years

  2. living in an interdependent relationship of some permanence where there is a child by birth or adoption, or

  3. living in or intend to live in an interdependent relationship and have entered into a written adult interdependent partner agreement.

Jordan and I have been living together for two years this coming March.  So according to Alberta's law, we are not in an Adult Interdependent Relationship.


After chatting with Jordan, we are both comfortable with a common-law marriage status.  In Jordan's words 'we eat together, sleep together, and bank together' - what else need for us to consider ourselves common law.  Frankly, I agree.

don't worry - i'll be writing about financial implications of this soon.

Are you in a common law relationship, how do you know that you are in your province/state?


  1. In Ontario, it is 3 years of living together. But they recommend people living together sign a cohabitation agreement which lays out what property belongs to whom during the course of your relationship. If you own no property together this doesn't matter, but if you buy property while you are common law without an agreement it would just go to the individual who bought it rather than be divided evenly as it would for married couples.

  2. You only have to live together for 12 months? Almost everyone I know would fall under that rule! In the states it is usually 6 or 7 years before it is considered a common law marriage and then only a few states actually follow that practice. Mr M and I have lived together for 5 years, but it wouldn't matter cause California does not recognize common law marriages.

  3. Great post! I think here the time frame is 2 or 3 years - gotta check up on that one.

  4. That's interesting. We don't have 'common law' in New Jersey, but a few other states do, and the time together varies. I think decades ago it was 7 years together. My last employer would give health benefits if you were cohabitating with your significant other for 12 months or more and could prove it.


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