Co Habitation and the Common Law

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So I was talking about comon-law marriages the other day with a colleague.

My wife and I were common law before we were married, and so were he and his wife.

Later on the conversation drifted to the FLDS families who have been in the news lately and we wondered, in the event that a single person resides, shares bills with and pools resources with several members of the opposite sex, does a common-law relationship exist?

There would be if only a single member of each sex were to live in the same arrangement.?Ǭ† It seems that some rights are being lost to some of the parties in the arrangement and since the whole point of the common law was to make sure all parties were to retain their rights, it seems that something may be amiss if it is not the case.

If, on the other hand, a common law marraige does exist – is it with all adult members of the household? What if they’re just dorm-mates while attending college etc.?

I see this as a sticky wicket. Any thoughts?

7 thoughts on “Co Habitation and the Common Law

  1. Not sure how it’s done in Canada, but in the US most common-law statutes (in the states that recognize them) require not only “cohabitation” (a term of art generally denoting a sexual relationship), but also that the couple “hold themselves out to be husband and wife” before the public.

  2. Yeah, we’ve got this nifty little feature aspect of the law called interdependent adults – which accomplishes the common law marriage rights without the act of declaring marriage. So I’m still not sure what that means…

  3. Interesting. I am not sure about college dorm roommates, but in terms of the FLDS and multiple “wives” I can see how there would be some sort of legal right, especially if there is shared property and children.

    A family friend is related to George Q. Cannon and during the time of his polygamy, my friend told me a story about one of his wives. Apparantly she had started a lot of the businesses during their marriage. When the marriage was dissolved, she had said something like, “I will return to you what you put into the marriage” and gave him a coin or something. She retained all the legal rights on the businesses. Sorry about the spelling errors. It is a little late on my end.

  4. This one is really tricky, because when the act was first passed in Alberta, anyone co-habitating for a certain period of time (I believe it was 3 years), even 2 friends who are single and just sharing an apartment, would have legal rights over property ahead of family members if one were to die intestate. I believe this has been modified, but I haven’t checked the act for about 3 years now.

  5. If a man has at least three girlfriends and he has children by all of them, is that really any different than what the FLDS do?

  6. The public policy exception should take care of this, as far as I know. I doubt there’s a single state or province that wouldn’t declare its public policy strongly against bigamy and refuse to give any common-law imprimatur to such a relationship.

  7. Wizard, there is a difference, and it’s this: The FLDS man is taking responsibility for the women and their children, to the point of trying to place an official blessing on that responsibility in the eyes of his church and his government. His conduct is vastly more honorable than that of the serial fornicator you’ve described.

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