Nova Scotia

Common Law Nova Scotia
Common law couples in Nova Scotia have few of the rights that married couples have. However, they can easily change this by entering into what is known as a domestic partnership.

Domestic Partnership
If you are living in a common law relationship, you can register your relationship by filing a domestic partners declaration under the Nova Scotia Vital Statistics Act with the Vital Statistics Office. The fee for doing this is currently $22.86. Once you do this, you and your domestic partner have all the same rights and obligations as a married couple has.

There are four ways to end a domestic partnership:

1. Jointly file a Statement of Termination with the Vital Statistics Office; or
2. One party filing a sworn statement that the parties have lived separate and apart for one year or more with the Vital Statistics Office; or
3. Filing a separation agreement between you and your domestic partner with the Vital Statistics Office; or
4. One domestic partner marrying someone else.

The current fee for filing any document terminating a domestic partnership is $30.29.

Property Rights
A domestic partner has all of the same rights to property division as a married spouse does. A common law partner has none of these rights. Upon a relationship ending, each partner keeps their own property and any joint property is shared equally. If either partner is unhappy with that, they can pursue the other in court for what is known as unjust enrichment. However, claims for unjust enrichment are very expensive and complicated and unlikely to divide property equally.

Spousal Support
A domestic partner has all of the same rights to spousal support as a married spouse does. So does a common law partner in Nova Scotia if the parties have lived together for two or more years.

Child Support & Child Custody
Married couples, domestic partners, and common law partners all have the same rights and obligations in regards to child support and child custody in Nova Scotia.

Married couples and domestic partners have the same rights regarding estates in Nova Scotia. Common law partners have few rights regarding estates, so if your common law partner passes away without a will, you would not inherit anything.

Cohabitation Agreement
If you are living in a common law relationship and simply want your rights and obligations to match those of a married couple, the easiest and best way to do this is simply to register a domestic partnership. However, if you would like to be governed by a legal regime of your own choosing, a cohabitation agreement will make this possible.

Nova Scotia has a legal regime that allows unmarried couples to choose to have the same rights and obligations as married couples simply by registering their partnership; if they wish to avoid doing this, they need not do anything.


  1. November 23, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    I have lived commonlaw with my partner for 10 yrs.and have been registered with our business for 2 yrs.
    My name is on all property owned except for household bills.I am on our business account with Bank of n.s. plus all the debt that comes with it.
    Is there need to apply or register if my relationship ended to be able to claim legally my share in the estate.I want only to be treated equally as 11hrs. a day in the office running our campground is surely something to be said for.”Thank-you for any help to rest my mind”Where to find the proper forms to register?

  2. Louisa-Reply
    December 18, 2012 at 12:23 am

    Hi I don’t like my daughter Christina she is a very unbehaved child!!!!!

  3. Ray Cushing-Reply
    June 4, 2013 at 6:21 pm

    I have been living with someone for three years who has children of her own. I was told due to the children we were common law emmiatly when she moved in “3 years ago” vice the standard two years.

    Reason I’m asking is for tax reasons as I have been putting seperated but now I must put common law? Or should have been putting common law right from the start?


  4. Stephen Bates-Reply
    September 7, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    Is a NS RDP legally recognized in another province or country?

Leave A Comment