The Family Law Act came into effect on March 18, 2013.

It is progressive legislation that changed the landscape of family law in many areas.  One such area is what is referred to as a common-law relationship.  Under the Family Law Act , common-law spouses are individuals who have lived together in a “marriage-like relationship” for a period of at least two years.  Sometimes establishing (or denying) a common-law relationship is complicated.

Under the Family Law Act, common-law spouses are not only able to pursue spousal support claims but also property division claims just like married spouses.  In some circumstances simply having a child with another person may give rise to spousal rights such as spousal support.

The technical definition of common-law spouses under the Family Law Act does not fully explain when cohabiting individuals are in a marriage-like relationship.  Some marriage-like relationships involve very little or no intimacy. Other marriage-like relationships can include spouses living separate for significant periods of time.

For common-law spouses, a limitation period applies.  In order to utilize the provisions of the Family Law Act, common-law spouses must start their claims as against the other spouse within two years of their separation.

Identifying when a relationship has ended or whether a relationship was marriage-like or not is a critical issue that needs to be analyzed in order to either proceed with a claim or defend against one.

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