What Does Common Law Mean in Canada

Posted in Common-law Sponsorship Canada

This is actually an interesting question which is exemplary of many of the common misconceptions of common law relationships. For this reason, let us first understand what common law means for the purposes of immigration.

According to Citizenship and Immigration Canada, the government considers this to mean a couple living together for one year without any long periods where you did not see each other. Either partner may have left the home for work or business travel, family obligations, and so on. However, that separation must have been temporary and short.

You may apply to sponsor a common-law partner, of the opposite sex or the same sex. If so, you have to prove you have been living with your partner for at least 12 consecutive months in a relationship like a marriage.

A common-law relationship ends when at least one partner does not intend to continue it.

Now that we have an understanding of what the most fundamental requirement of sponsoring a Common Law Partner is, we can dispel some of the other, more generally applicable misconceptions about common law relationships.

Most notably, that it falls under provincial jurisdiction and not the federal. This means that each province may have varying and unique views on what they legally consider to be a common law union.

For example, in British Columbia, a couple residing together for at least two years in a common law relationship are treated equally to those who have been legally married. In Alberta, common law unions are called adult interdependent partners. This is deemed a common law relationship when the couple has resided together for at least three years or has a child and lives together. Quebec, on the other end, does not even recognize such relationships.

Some other popular misconceptions about common law union are:

  • In the event of a break up, assets are divided.  This is actually untrue, most provinces do not recognize matrimonial property in common law relationship
  • Common law partners are not entitled to spousal support in the event of a break up.  If a court determines that there were "economic consequences" to the break-up. If one person in the relationship supported the other person regularly, then that person might be entitled to continue that way of life
  • Children do not affect common law unions.  This is a grave misconception, the presence of a child greatly affects the union of a relationship

Again, what common law union is understood as for the purposes of immigration is different to what is considered provincially.

The main factor you will need to demonstrate in your common law sponsorship application is that you have been cohabitating in a "marriage like" relationship for at least 12 months.

Depending on the uniqueness of your situation, there are a number of ways you can demonstrate this, as many often ask, "how do I prove I have lived with my partner for a year?"

Contact Akrami & Associates so that we can discuss the merits of your case and assist you in gathering the right documents. One of our skilled immigration professionals can walk you through what is required as well as what you can do to strengthen your case.

Contact Akrami & Associates Immigration Law firm


For further information with respect to your Canadian immigration, we invite you to contact our experienced immigration representatives. 

Tags: Common-law Sponsorship Family Class Sponsorship Canadian Permanent Residence Canadian Immigration What Does Common Law Mean in Canada

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