The law treats a traditional marriage and a common-law marriage the same when a relationship ends.

In some ways it does, but in some ways it doesn’t. The issues of custody, access and child support are usually resolved the same way regardless of whether the spouses are actually married. The issue of spousal support will also be treated the same provided that the spouses have lived together for at least three years or if they have lived together for less than three years and have had/adopted a child together.

The process for dividing property in a common-law marriage is very different from the rules that apply in a traditional marriage. For example, there is no “equalization payment” to divide a couple’s assets at the end of a common-law relationship. 

Category: Myths & Facts