The term common law is viewed in society as a relationship akin to marriage, yet the Family Law Act actually does away with that term and simply considers whether a couple are spouses or not. If you aren't married, in order to be considered a spouse you have to be living with your partner in a marriage-like relationship for at least two years. The term living together has a point to it, yet you don't actually have to be living together in the same dwelling to be considered in a marriage-like relationship. There are a number of different factors that the court can consider in determining whether you're in a marriage-like relationship or not.

These factors can usually be grouped into two categories. The first is social, which considers the social aspects of your relationship. Do you attend social engagements together? Do you spend quality time together? Do the people around you recognize that you're in a serious relationship with this person? If you have children from other relationships, do you support those children? These are all considered social factors that may go into determining whether you're in a marriage-like relationship.

The second factor the court may consider is economic factors. These may include whether you make big purchases together, whether you choose to support your spouse financially, whether you put your spouse on your benefits with your employer, or where you choose to work and live to make your relationship easier. It is important to consider that courts view couples uniquely, therefore a certain judge may place more weight on some factors than others. The reality is, many couples choose not to live together for a very specific reason, but as long as you've been living together in this marriage-like relationship for at least two years, you will be considered spouses under the family law act.

Shea Chorney is a CBM Associate specializing predominantly in family law with additional support to the estate and civil litigation practice groups. Reach out to Shea or contact us today!