Common Law Canada
Each federal statute has its own rules, but generally under federal law, you are considered common law once you have lived together for one year.
The Divorce Act is the legislation that governs what happens regarding child custody, child support, and spousal support when a married relationship ends. The Canadian Divorce Act fairly obviously only applies to married couples. Every province has their own family law legislation dealing with these issues. In some provinces common law couples are treated similarly to married couples with regards to property rights and spousal support, and in other provinces they are treated quite differently. On the top navigation bar, click on your province to find out more about your legal rights. Child support and child custody are treated the same way for married and unmarried couples in all provinces and territories, as these are focussed on issues relating to the children and not legal status of the parents’ relationship.
Canada Pension Plan
CPP considers you a common law couple if you live together for at least one year. Pension credits can be divided if you have been living together for at least 12 months and have been separated for at least 12 months.
As well, common law partners are eligible for payments of CPP survivor benefits when their partner passes away.
Old Age Security
You are considered a common law partner for Old Age Security purposes if you have been living together for one year or longer. Common law partners are eligible for OAS survivor’s allowance.
Income Tax Act
The Income Tax Act considers you common law if you have lived together for one year or more in a conjugal relationship or a shorter period of time while raising a child together. If you are common law, you must (it is not optional) file as common law and can claim the same tax credits as if you were married.