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Domestic Partnership vs Common Law Relationship in Canada

Domestic Partnership vs Common Law Relationship

What are registered domestic partnerships and common-law relationships? Is there any specific legal regulation about these kinds of living in Canada? Well, we are going to discuss everything you need to know about both of the terms.

In this time and age, not everyone wants to be legally married for various purposes. A lot of people believe the traditional law of marriage is outdated and quite misogynistic.

Some of these people prefer other kinds of long-term relationships that will not legally bind them together and will still allow them to enjoy several marital legal benefits.

Some of these non-marital legal relationships and the laws regarding them include:

  • Common-Law Relationships
  • Common-Law Separation
  • Relationships and Registered Domestic Partnerships
  • Property, Pensions and Debts
  • Civil Union
  • Reciprocal Beneficiary
  • Designated Beneficiary

This article will dive into the depths of common-law relationships vs registered domestic partnerships and understand how important this issue is for a common-law couple.

What is a Domestic Partnership in Canada?

The definition of domestic partnership refers to when a couple formalizes their relationship through government registration, granting them certain rights similar to those of married couples without the necessity of marriage.

It is important to remember that a registered domestic partnership will allow couples to enjoy more benefits than common-law couples but will not enjoy all spousal benefits.

How to Register as Domestic Partners

If you are interested in legalizing your relationship with your partner without getting married, then you can register for a domestic partnership in Canada by following the rules given below:

  • You must be 19 or older to be eligible.
  • You cannot be married or already have a registered domestic partnership.
  • Have to register with Vital Statistics and Municipal Relations.
  • Complete the application form.

You will need your and your partner’s personal information, such as your full name, date of birth, address, and marital status.

Key Factors You Must Consider While Registering as Domestic Partners

  • Make sure to attach all the required supporting documents and related details mentioned in the application.
  • You will also need your and your partner’s signature and the signature of the witness.
  • Do not forget to pay for your application.
  • You can mail the completed application along with supporting documents and payment, or you can book an appointment at Vital Statistics.
  • Once you are done, if all the requirements are met and the documents are submitted, you will only have to wait two to three weeks to receive your Domestic Partnership Certificate.

Cost of Registered Domestic Partnership

You will need to pay a sum for the registration and for the certificate, you will receive after registering as domestic partners.

  • Registration for a domestic partnership will cost $24.95.
  • If you fill-up the short form for the domestic partnership certificate, you will have to pay $33.00.
  • If you fill up for the long-form domestic partnership certificate, you will have to pay $39.90.
  • The registration for termination of the domestic partnership will cost $24.95.
  • The termination certificate of the domestic partnership will cost $33.00.

Benefits of a Registered Domestic Partnership

Some of the benefits a couple might enjoy in a registered domestic partnership are as follows:

  • The couple will have pension benefits.
  • Can divide property and other assets if the couple decides to separate or in the case of a death.
  • You can get sick leave.
  • You also have long-term care insurance and group life insurance.
  • Another benefit is that couples enjoy the relocation benefits.
  • Couples will also get health insurance benefits.
  • Couples will also have rights to hospital and jail visits.

End of a Registered Domestic Partnership

Relationships come to an end, and the law has allowed fair opportunities for couples who want to end their registered domestic partnership.

The events under which a couple can end a registered domestic partnership are discussed in the list below.

  • If one of the individuals gets married to another person,
  • If the couple has registered for a separation agreement in court,
  • If the couple files an executed statement of termination form to the Vital Statistics.
  • If one of the individuals simply does not want to continue with the relationship,
  • If the couple has been living apart for a year or more than a year.

What is a Common-Law Relationship?

A common-law relationship is a term used for couples who are not legally married but live together.

They have been together for a while and share their finances, and except for the marriage license, a common-law relationship entails everything a traditional marital relationship does.

While there are no legal forms or certificates you will need to acquire if you are in a common-law relationship, you can always choose to draft a cohabitation agreement.

A cohabitation agreement is a legal contract that you and your partner sign at the beginning of your relationship or when you decide to enter a common-law relationship.

In this document, you will write down the terms regarding your finances, parenting, property, debts, and everything else you believe is important to you and your partner.

Thus, if you are separated, you and your partner will know where you stand regarding specific issues and easily deal with them without going to court.

End of a Common Law Relationship

A common-law relationship can end anytime one party or both parties decide to end it. There is no legal action one needs to take to call the relationship to an end.

However, the couple will still have to deal with a set of rights and responsibilities after the relationship ends.

If children are involved, you and your partner will have to divide the parenting duties and responsibilities. Both of you will also have to divide property, assets, and debts according to the terms you have agreed on in your cohabitation agreement.

If you do not have a cohabitation agreement and cannot agree with each other, you can go to court and get the judge’s help to decide the terms of division.

Benefits of a Common Law Relationship

If you are wondering how a common-law relationship will benefit you, then read the list below to learn about some of the benefits you will enjoy in a common-law relationship.

  • You and your partner will have less involvement, both legally and financially, with each other. If you decide to go in separate directions, you will not have too many issues to deal with.
  • You will have a claim and rights to your partner’s property even if the said property is not legally registered in your name, and vice versa.
  • The New Family Property Act is applicable for you and your partner now.
  • Taxes and debts will also be divided between the two of you.
  • If you decide to separate for the next two years from the day of your separation, you can claim against your partner’s property or assets anytime, and vice versa.
  • As your partner can also claim against your property two years after your relationship, you will have that amount of time to take legal action to protect your property or assets.

Domestic Partnership vs Common Law Relationship

Contrary to popular belief, there is a fine line between a common-law relationship and a registered domestic partnership. Discussed below are some of the differences between the two.

  • In a registered domestic relationship, you are required to register with the government, while in a common-law relationship, you are not required to take that action.
  • If you are in a common-law relationship and decide to separate from your partner, then the issue of dividing the property, assets, and debts between the two of you might be a little complicated. This is because the law regarding the division of property and assets in common-law relationships is unclear.
  • If you are in a registered domestic partnership and decide to separate from your partner, then dividing property, assets, and debts will be easy. This is because some married laws are legal for you, such as the Matrimonial Property Act, and will help you figure out the division between you and your partner.
  • One main difference between the two is that in common-law relationships, the couple can claim and have the right to each other’s social security benefits. However, in a registered domestic partnership, social security benefits cannot be claimed by the partner.

Final Thoughts

To sum it all up, both common-law relationships and registered domestic partnerships have their own set of pros and cons. Couples in either category nonetheless have benefits that they are entitled to and can enjoy.

While domestic partnerships might seem a little complicated due to the process of registration, you will enjoy more benefits from that.

On the other hand, in a common-law relationship, you will not have to go through the entire hassle of registering with the government and simply draw up a cohabitation agreement if you and your partner are willing.

In the end, you will not have to go through the process of traditional marriage to live with your partner legally and enjoy some of the spousal benefits. But to understand Domestic Partnership vs Common Law Relationship more precisely, you can contact a Family Lawyer who is experienced and get the right solution in your case.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a live-in girlfriend a domestic partner?

A live-in girlfriend might be considered a domestic partner, depending on the laws in your area. Generally, if a couple lives together in a committed relationship and meets certain criteria, they might be recognized as domestic partners.

Do domestic partners have the same rights as married couples?

The rights of domestic partners vary by location. In some places, domestic partners enjoy similar rights to married couples regarding things like property sharing and support. However, these rights can differ from those of married couples in certain aspects.

What states do not recognize domestic partnerships?

Several states in the U.S. do not formally recognize domestic partnerships. The laws and recognition of domestic partnerships vary widely across different states.

Who is considered a common-law partner in Canada?

In Canada, a common-law partner is someone who has lived in a conjugal relationship for a certain period, typically one year or more, depending on the province or territory.

Can a common-law partner get the house?

Common-law partners might have rights to property acquired during their relationship. However, the specifics can vary based on factors like contributions made and local laws governing property division.

Is civil partnership the same as common-law?

Civil partnership and common-law relationships differ. A civil partnership involves a formal legal registration, while common-law partnerships arise from cohabitation and do not necessarily involve a formalized process.

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