The number of people in common law relationships has steadily increased over the years. While many couples may actively choose a common law relationship over marriage, others may do so inadvertently, making a decision to cohabite without really considering whether they are, or intend to be, in a common law relationship.
In the estate context, status as a common law spouse is significant. Under the Estate Administration Act, a common law spouse may be entitled to all or a part of the estate of a deceased who died without a will. Under the Wills Variation Act, a common law spouse may have a claim against an estate where the deceased did have a will but the common law spouse was not adequately provided for.