A common law relationship is where two people, who are not married, live together in a 'marriage-like' relationship. This means that they not only share a home, but they refer to themselves in public as spouses or partners, and share things like bills and other finances.

Whether or not you are considered to be in a common law relationship will depend on the facts of your situation and whether the law you are trying to use gives a definition. Every law has its own definition for what qualifies as a common law relationship.  

For example, the Canada Pension Plan says that to be a ‘common law partner’ you had to have been living with your partner for one year, while the Parenting and Support Act says you are a ‘spouse’ after you have lived together in a conjugal relationship for two years, or have lived together and have a child together. A conjugal relationship is a ‘marriage-like’ relationship. 

'Spouse'; child support and spousal support; paternity testing info sheet


Use the menu on the left or click any of the links below for more information:

Common law relationships & Registered Domestic Partnerships

Common law separation

Property, pensions & debts for common law couples

Common law separation links

If you are separating from your partner, or are involved with, or going to be involved with, the court, it is always a good idea to speak with a lawyer. Click here for information about legal support and advice options in Nova Scotia, including no- and low-cost services.

Last updated on November 28, 2019 - 8:13am