Becoming Common Law

Many people are uncertain about what it means to be  a common law spouse or exactly when a common law relationship starts.  This uncertainty makes sense when you consider that the definition of a common law spouse is not the same from situation to situation or province to province.

A common law relationship is similar to a marriage and usually refers to 2 people who live together in a romantic relationship.  You may be considered a common law spouse in a wide range of situations, including situations related to adoptions, change of name, and adult guardianship.

At our office, we are asked mainly about how common law relationships affect income taxes and family property.

The Canada Revenue Agency considers you to be a common law spouse if you have lived with someone for 12 months in a romantic relationship.  If you became a common law spouse during the tax year, you will need to include information about your common law spouse on your income tax return.

When it comes to questions about family property, you are considered to be a common law spouse in Saskatchewan if you have lived with someone for 2 years in a marriage-like relationship.  As a common law spouse, you have the same rights and responsibilities as a legally married spouse.  These rights and responsibilities affect how your property will be divided if your relationship ends and whether a claim may be made for spousal support.

This blog provides a very basic summary of common law relationships and it is best to consult with either a tax or legal expert to determine how becoming a common law spouse may affect your future financial position.