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Common-Law Marriage Rights British Columbia 2013

Updated on February 26, 2013

I was shifting through CBC News online when I discovered an article discussing the new common-law marriage legislation that is scheduled to be enacted sometime soon (Spring 2013 was it?). From what I gathered, common-law couples who have lived together for 2 years or more in a ‘marriage-like’ relationship will be granted marriage rights (the same as couples who possess a marriage license). So, should a break up occur between couples in a common-law marriage the partners each have the right to 50% of their one another’s assets.

First thing I recognized upon reading the article is embarrassingly obvious but should be verbalized nonetheless, and it is that these changes to the Family Law Act, though they say are designed to “protect” families, can only really do so from a financial approach. My next reactions were varied. While on the one hand I feel this is a positive step for couples, especially those with children, who never signed a marriage license. I can especially understand the courts thinking with the shockingly high divorce rates which no doubt discourage many couples these days from “taking the plunge”.

That being said in reading the CBC article, and then a few others like it, I found myself getting a bit sad. Perhaps it was the presentation of marriage from a purely financial perspective that did it but it just seems so stark that these kinds of laws need be enforced. Personally I am not sure if there is a need for these laws to be automatically bestowed upon common-law marriages where children are not involved and I would love to hear some further opinions of the matter, perhaps from people who are in common-law relationships who do not have kids with their partners? Do common-law marriage partners who do not have any children see value or opportunity in the new legislation?


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