While common law relationships are not recognized in every province in Canada, a recent news article covering those that do rank British Columbia as the most “common-law-friendly province.” This was mainly because of how quickly cohabitating couples are considered to be part of a common law relationship.
Under the province’s laws, once a couple has lived together for two years, they are considered to be in a common law relationship. This means that the parties have the same rights as married couples and are governed by the same debt and asset division guidelines in the event the relationships dissolves. However, many people in these relationships may not be aware of these rights.
In today’s society, it’s not unusual for dating couples to live together for a few years before deciding to marry. In these situations, the parties may not even be aware that they are technically in a common law relationship. This means that if/when the relationship ends, it’s easier for one person to end up with most of the assets or more than one’s fair share of the debts.
One of the most important things you can do to protect your rights and interests when a common law relationship or marriage is ending is to understand how the laws apply to your case. Talking with a lawyer about your situation as well as your wants, needs, and expectations can help you be better prepared as you go through the court process. Understanding the steps also helps you develop adequate expectations on how long the process is likely to take and what you may end up with at the end.
Source: The Canadian Press, “Common-law couples can be ‘woefully ignorant of their rights’: lawyer,” Melanie Patten, Feb. 11, 2016
Laughlin & Company Lawyers Mediators
2755 Lougheed Hwy #710, Port Coquitlam, BC V3B 5Y9