Usually it's up to two consenting adults to determine whether or not they want to get married and while that's true there is one scenario that almost makes it seem like a couple is married without actually legally filing for marriage papers. Whenever a couple moves into a real estate property together and stays living together for a period of 12 continuous months they are then considered to be partaking in a common law relationship.
While you are not legally married to your partner the government looks at your relationship as if you are some sort of married couple.
Common law relationships can be broken if the relationship ceases to exists for a period of 90 days or more. Common law relationships can also be due to a couple living together for a period of less than 12 continuous months if the couple living together has natural or adopted children.
What it all boils down to when it comes to common law marriage is that it's an alternative form of the traditional marriage. Common law marriage isn't something that's accepted universally and is only law in certain countries. Every state in the United States or province in Canada that supports common law marriage has their own laws pertaining to common law spouses. If you think you are part of a common law relationship or intend to be in one then it's up to you to find out what your rights are. Common law marriage doesn't have the same benefits as traditional marriage so you need to be aware or what does or doesn't pertain to you.
For instance, in Canada there is a Family Relations Act that states when a legally married couple separates that all property and family assets such as cars, bank accounts or properties will be split equally between both parties, regardless of the person who bought or owns the assets. Every asset in a marriage is considered a family asset. However, this law does not pertain to couples in common law marriages.
If one spouse owns the house they are entitled to that property after the common law marriage dissolves, which means they could put up their home for sale and not have to split the money made from the sale. The only way it is split is if both parties contributed to the purchase of the asset. This is something very important to keep in mind once you get into a common law relationship.
Other common law relationship areas such as employee benefits and old age pensions are usually treated the same as traditional marriage. We hope you now have an understanding of common law and consider the ramifications of it if you do decide to move into a property with your partner.