The couple had a will in place but Galbraith admits they didn’t give much thought to the potential consequences of their common-law status.
Retired legal aid lawyer Kathy Briand knows just how badly things can go.
He added that married couples can be equally nescient. Laws governing common-law relationships differ across the country in both the length of time two partners must cohabitate before they are considered common law and what partners are entitled to in the event of a breakup or death.
READ MORE: ‘No one could relate’: widows speak out on losing spouse at young age Division of property laws, in particular, “are a disaster,” says Boyd.
Abbott says it’s clear there is still value in traditional marriage, pointing to the hard-fought battle to allow same-sex couples to marry.“In Alberta, for example, you only have rights if you sign an agreement as an Adult Interdependent Partnership. Only married people have any presumptive rights.”Common-law standing in Ontario entitles partners to claim spousal support but not property.Unmarried partners in Nova Scotia can claim spousal support once they’ve been in a common-law relationship for two years.Even married couples can benefit from a pre-nuptial agreement.“Nobody balks about buying insurance, but it’s just not romantic to talk about pre-marriage agreements,” says Briand, before adding with a chuckle: “But it’s way easier to do when you both still love each other.” A Rohingya refugee woman with her child walks on the muddy path after crossing the Bangladesh-Myanmar border in Teknaf, Bangladesh, September 7, 2017.REUTERS/Mohammad Ponir Hossain " data-medium-file="https://shawglobalnews.files.wordpress.com/2017/09/2017-09-07t134545z_1402102762_rc11f02573e0_rtrmadp_3_myanmar-rohingya-bangladesh-e1512495673514.jpg? quality=70&strip=all&w=300" data-large-file="https://shawglobalnews.files.wordpress.com/2017/09/2017-09-07t134545z_1402102762_rc11f02573e0_rtrmadp_3_myanmar-rohingya-bangladesh-e1512495673514.jpg? quality=70&strip=all&w=720" / A sold sign is shown in front of west-end Toronto homes Sunday, April 9, 2017.