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Common-Law Relationship Alberta | Experienced Family Lawyers in Calgary, AB


Being in love does not mean you have to marry the other person. You can live together as long as you want without the hassle of marriage. Legal marriages do bring many benefits to the table.

You are just not a legal couple without marriage. So, what is a couple called when they are not married? You and your partner may be called common-law spouses.

A common-law relationship in Alberta has many legal advantages. This article will focus on providing an overview of common-law marriage.

What Does Common Law Relationship Mean?

Common-law relationships are not so complicated to understand. When two people live together like married couples, they are considered common-law partners. A common law relationship involves living together for a certain period.

The term “Conjugal partner” is essential in common-law relationships. Common-law relationships are when the partners are in a conjugal relationship. Being a marital partner means the other person has more than sexual needs with you.

You and your partner may be sharing a home. There might involve strong emotional supports to one another. So, there are many things to consider in forming a conjugal partnership. Fulfilling the factors makes the partners be in a common-law relationship.

What is Considered a Common Law Relationship in Canada?

As mentioned already, there are some requirements for a common-law relationship. Two partners must fulfil these requirements to call themselves common-law partners. There can be a total of 7 factors in consideration here. The factors are as follows:

Living Together

The first factor is the length of time the partners are living together. You and your partner must be living together for more than a year. This means that you two have been living under one roof. There is no roommate behaviour. And you two work together to make the home a complete living place.

Having Children Together

This is another major factor considered for common-law relationships. You can have children without getting married, and you can claim your children without being a married couple. Having a child between a year of living together can be a deciding factor.

Sexual behaviour

This is where the marital partnership comes forward. The legal authorities will consider your sexual behaviour to one another. This also involves how you and your partner personally behave with each other. If there is more than a sexual connection, you and your partner are in a marital relationship.

Behaviour with children

Your behaviour with children is also a huge factor. You and your partner may have children together at some point of living together. Each partner’s behaviour with the child is an important consideration. Does one partner behave like a parent with the other partner’s child? If the answer is positive, that is a common-law relationship.

Behaviour with each other

Does each partner behave like a regular family member with one another? The answer to this question is significant. It would be best if you acted like a traditional family to be considered a common-law partner.

Societal status

It is also essential to show yourselves as a couple to society. Society must also acknowledge you as committed partners. This will enable you to legalize as common-law partners.

Economic support

Both partners can support each other. Or one partner can support the other. Whatever the case is, economic condition is another important factor.

How to End Common Law Relationship

Ending a common-law relationship is simple. You do not have to go through any legal works. It can end anytime a partner wants it to end.

The process of ending the relationship is nothing complex. We have watched relationships end in movies. That is exactly how a common-law relationship can end. But problems arise when there are assets and children in the relationship. These could be as follows:

Division of asset

You can keep what belongs to you after the separation. But any asset could be in the name of both of you. What happens then? Both of you will get the shared value of the asset. If the other partner disagrees, you may have to fight a legal battle. You will have to prove unjust enrichment by the other partner.

Child custody

Child custody laws are similar for any relationship. As long as you are a legal guardian, you can fight for your child.

Seeking legal advice

Common law separation can be tricky. It can involve other people, children, and assets. So, it is best to hire an experienced family lawyer. The law entitles you to seek legal advice regardless of your relationship status.

How to Protect Assets in a Common Law Relationship

Protecting your asset during a relationship is essential. We never think of separating from our loved ones. But you never know when things can go wrong.

The first thing you should consider is signing a contract. This contract is also called a Cohabitation Agreement. The contract includes property and asset information. This asset valuation can prove the support you can receive from your partner.

The next is setting yourself as a beneficiary. You can claim yourself a beneficiary against any pensions or insurance payments, and you can also name yourself a beneficiary to the will.

The last thing is to ensure joint ownership. You and your partner must be buying something together. Your job is to ensure that the assets have your name as an owner. It would be best if you were a registered owner to claim half of the asset.

What Are My Rights in a Common Law Relationship?

Knowing your rights in any relationship is very important. It is normal to be confused about your rights in a non-registered partnership. The same goes for common-law relationships.

But common-law partners can enjoy every right that married couples get. This includes child custody, child support, spousal support, and others. You can expect to get equal rights as any married couple in court.

The biggest problem arises during property division. You do not get an automatic claim to the property. Married couples are legally entitled to claim property rights from one another. But common-law partners must prove joint ownership to claim their rights.

When is a Relationship Considered Common Law?

Your relationship will be considered common law after fulfilling the requirements. The most important of them all are living together.

You and your partner must live together for at least 1 year. This one year needs to be a straight timeline. There cannot be any on and off togetherness. Also, both of you have to live together like any regular couple. You and your partner cannot just live like roommates.

Moreover, you must fulfil the 7 requirements completely. It would help if you had already gone through the rules affecting common-law relationships. Make sure to understand them and fulfil them to be considered common-law partners.


Being with your loved ones is a great feeling. We never think of any legal issues on one another. But you never know what life can throw at you.

It can be even trickier in a common-law relationship Alberta. Many confusions are surrounding the partnership. You are not married, yet you and your partner are living together.

You are behaving like any other legal couple. So, there are many things to consider. You need to know your rights. You need to understand how to protect your assets. In the end, it all comes down to being informative and smart.