Is it true that when you live together for one year in BC the law treats you as married?

This is a rumour that has been around for a long time. No this is not true. Under the Family Law Act of BC Section 198 sub 2, parties cannot commence an action for spousal support, property division or the division of a pension until they have cohabitated for 24 consecutive months. That is two full years!

Co-habitation is generally defined as when both parties are living exclusively together at one or both residences.

Every relationship is different, and there are of course some exceptions to the general rules. One notable exception is where the relationship produced children. This will affect support obligations for both child support and spousal support even if you have not cohabitated for the full 24 months.

Pro tip: get a cohabitation agreement before you hit the 24-month mark! It is a document which lists what you own or owe, what the other person owns or owes and what your joint wishes are. This sets you up for a solid future together.

Any guidance provided is not covered by solicitor–client privilege, nor is it taking into consideration all of the facts of your matter beyond those in the question. The legal information is specific to British Columbia Law. If you want a more thorough and case-specific analysis of your legal matter, please contact us to arrange a consultation.

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