1. Check if you meet the definition of "spouse"

What is spousal support?
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1. Check if you meet the definition of "spouse"

You and your partner are spouses if you're married to each other or in a common-law relationship.

For the purpose of spousal support, a common-law relationship means you:

  • cohabited, or lived together, as a couple for at least 3 years, or
  • were in a relationship of "some permanence" for any length of time and had a child together.

Cohabiting means living together in a marriage-like relationship but without getting married. It is often called "cohabitation" or "living common-law".

A court looks at these factors to decide if you’re in a common-law relationship:

  • Did you live together?
  • Did you have sex?
  • Did you do household chores for each other like cooking, cleaning, and laundry?
  • Did you act as a couple socially?
  • Did your friends, family, and community see you as a couple?
  • Did one partner support the other financially?
  • Did you combine your finances?
  • Did you act as parents to each other's children?

Even if you and your partner did not live together for 3 years, you may still be spouses if you had a child together and lived together in a relationship "of some permanence".

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Canadian Bar Association Legal Health Check
Reviewed: November 30, 2017

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