Common-law partner

A “common-law partner” is a term used to refer to a person who lives with another in a relationship similar to that of marriage, but without being legally married to that person. The exact definition and rights associated with this status can vary from one province to another and depending on the legal context (e.g., family rights, taxes, inheritance). In Quebec, for example, the following aspects are often associated with common-law partners:

  • Duration of the Relationship: To be recognized as common-law partners, a couple typically has to live together in a conjugal relationship for a continuous period, often a year, or have a child together.
  • Rights and Obligations: In some provinces, common-law partners can have rights and obligations similar to those of married couples concerning child support. In Quebec, they have, in many respects, fewer rights and obligations towards each other than married couples.
  • Taxes: For tax purposes, the Canada Revenue Agency considers 2 people as common-law partners if they have lived together in a conjugal relationship for at least 12 consecutive months, or if they have a child together.
  • Children: If a couple has children, whether they are common-law partners or married does not have implications for custody, visitation rights, and child support.
  • Will and Inheritance: In Quebec, if a person dies without a will, their common-law partner has far fewer rights than if they were married, unless local law states otherwise.
  • Bankruptcy and Proposal: For the purposes of calculating surplus income and the duration of a bankruptcy, common-law partners have the same rights and obligations as a married couple.

It’s essential to consult local legislation or a specialized lawyer to understand precisely the rights and obligations associated with the status of common-law partner in a given jurisdiction.