Am I in a Common-Law Relationship?

In Saskatchewan, The Family Property Act and The Family Maintenance Act defines “spouse” as either two persons who are legally married or have been cohabiting with the other person as spouses continuously for at least two years (often referred to as a “common-law relationship”). This means that once you have cohabitated with another person continuously for at least two years, the same rights arise under these acts as couples who are legally married. Meeting the above definition of spouse triggers certain rights and obligations with respect to property owned both together and individually as well as support.

Unlike legal marriage where you have a definite ‘start’ date, the date when people commence cohabitation is dependant on several factors and may not necessarily be when one or both persons think. There are also many misconceptions about preventing the ‘cohabitation clock’ from starting which includes: not changing your address, filing a tax return as single, keeping separate bank accounts, owing/maintaining separate homes or paying the other person rent.

There are several factors that the Court will consider when determining if two people are cohabitating as spouses and when it commenced. These include:

  • Do they live together?
  • What are the sleeping arrangements?
  • Do they have an exclusive relationship with one another?
  • Do they eat meals together?
  • What are their feelings toward one another?
  • What is the conduct between them about:

    • Preparation of meals;
    • Washing of clothes;
    • Shopping for groceries; and
    • Household upkeep and maintenance.
  • Do they participate together or separately in activities, including but not limited to, work functions, weddings, family gatherings, etc.
  • How do their neighbours, co-workers, friends, families view the couple?
  • What are their financial arrangements or attitudes?

The above list is not exhaustive and no factor is determinative. Courts will still examine the relationship as a whole to make their determination. It is also important to note that a temporary break-up or separation does not necessarily restart the ‘cohabitation clock’.

Couples can enter into a Cohabitation Agreement which is a contract made between them allowing them to protect their individual assets and set out what rights and responsibilities each person has should the relationship end in the future. A Cohabitation Agreement can be tailored to a couple’s specific needs and requires each person receives independent legal advice with respect to the Agreement.

If you have further questions about your rights and obligations under The Family Property Act and Family Maintenance Act, the definition of ‘spouse’, cohabitation, or Cohabitation Agreements, Robertson Stromberg’s team of Family Law lawyers would be happy to assist you.

Covid-19: Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench Update

Thanks to the quick response and diligent efforts in Saskatchewan, our province’s management of COVID-19 has been quite remarkable. While we will still feel the effects for the foreseeable future, we must learn how to navigate ourselves to return to a new normal.

Yesterday, we saw the provincial government’s re-opening plan, which will allow the economy to re-open in phases. Yesterday, we also saw an updated directive from The Court of Queen’s Bench.

Chamber’s Hearings:

Effective June 1, 2020, the Court’s restrictions respecting hearing only urgent and emergency chamber’s applications will be lifted. These matters will proceed by telephone. Until June 1, 2020, the Court’s restrictions on hearing only urgent and emergency applications remain in place.

Pre-Trial Conferences:

Effective June 1, 2020 pre-trial conference will resume. These will proceed by telephone, or where appropriate and possible, in person. The Court has indicated they will be making efforts to hear substantially more pre-trial conferences over the summer months to assist with the backlog of cases. Further details about scheduling pre-trials will be provided shortly.

Moving Forward:

Robertson Stromberg continues to operate during this time.  We are committed to assisting you with all your needs while also practicing appropriate social distancing protocols. With the latest update from the Court, regular chambers hearings and pre-trial conferences are only five weeks away.

If you had a chamber’s hearing or pre-trial conference that was adjourned due to COVID-19, your lawyer will be contacting you once they receive information about its rescheduling.

If you have a current legal issue, please contact our office to discuss your options with one of our lawyers. We can advise if your matter may qualify to proceed on an urgent or emergency basis. If not, we can provide you with alternative options. Robertson Stromberg has lawyers trained in arbitration, collaborative law, and mediation. Lastly, if required, with the new directive from the Court, we can start to prepare your matter to be heard in June when the court resumes hearing all applications.

To view the full directive from the Court of Queen’s Bench, click the following link:

For more information, please contact:


Andrew R. Gaucher


Email: [email protected]

Andrew Gaucher Presents at “Planning Ahead Seminar”

On Wednesday June 26, Andrew Gaucher will be speaking about the importance of Estate Planning at the “Planning Ahead Seminar” hosted by Hillcrest Memorial Gardens & Funeral Home.  The evening session, beginning at 6:30 will also include other planning aspects such as funeral pre-planning, insurance and real estate.

There is no cost or registration required.

Hillcrest is located at 210 Wess Road, Saskatoon.

LawyersAndrew R Gaucher